The scale and usage of digital platform ecosystems in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa

The scale and usage of digital platform ecosystems in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa

July 31, 2020    

App usage in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa data signals digitalisation of Africa’s economic exchanges

Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa are leading digital app markets in Africa. The relatively high levels of app usage across these markets are driven by expanded smartphone penetration, as well as higher levels of access to digital financial services, including mobile money. Building on our landscaping study of Africa’s digital platforms, we provide a visual overview of each country’s digital platform ecosystem.

The series of infographics showcases the data on the size and scale of usage of digital platforms and their related “transactional” apps as well as the usage trends for social media and financial apps. Our key insights are as follows:

  • Active usage of transactional apps signals growing digitisation of economic exchanges. Digital platforms and their associated “transactional” apps provide innovative channels for individuals and entrepreneurs to find income-generating opportunities, through being matched to consumers in these online marketplaces. In Nigeria and South Africa, “freelance” platforms that connect microentrepreneurs and gig workers to work opportunities are the most prevalent type. In Kenya, online shopping platforms that facilitate e-commerce transactions for merchants are found to be most common, with Jumia, Alibaba, and Kilimall accounting for close to 80% of the active Kenyan user base of these types of apps. We find that a moderate to average proportion of transactional app users across Nigeria (36%), Kenya (54%), and South Africa (52%) are actively using these types of digital apps.
  • High active usage of social media apps supported by young and tech-savvy populations. Unsurprisingly, we find that digital app users are most active on social media and entertainment apps. and we think that this is underpinned by a demographic of the young and tech-savvy active user base, with the majority of digital app users across Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa being under the age of 35. The most used social media apps across the three countries are WhatsApp and Facebook.
  • Digital financial apps make financial services more accessible. Digital financial apps such as Cowrywise have enabled users who would not have previously had access to the formal financial sector to transact, save, and invest their money. Of African’s banked, 40% prefer to use digital channels to manage their finances, and we observe a moderate and material proportion of app users in Nigeria (41%), Kenya (43%), and (62%) South Africa actively using digital financial apps.
  • Strong differential use of digital apps between genders. There is a marked gender disparity in digital app usage, with men making more active use of digital apps than women. Men represent a greater proportion of active app users in Nigeria (63%) and Kenya (59%), while in South Africa (51%) the active use of digital apps between genders is more balanced. This gender imbalance in digital app usage could be symptomatic of women having relatively lower levels of access to mobile internet and smartphones across these countries: GSMA estimates of the gender gap in mobile internet usage for Nigeria (29%), Kenya (34%), and South Africa (13%), indicate that in 2019 women were still significantly less likely than men to use mobile internet across these countries.

Explore the country-level infographics

Kenya Size 827 KB
Nigeria Size 933 KB
South Africa Size 970 KB

insight2impact (i2ifacility) was funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with Mastercard FoundationThe programme was established and driven by Cenfri and Finmark Trust.

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