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COVID-19 spikes app downloads as Nigeria leads Africa by 43%

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A new report from AppsFlyer in collaboration with Google, which tracked mobile app activities across three of Africa’s largest app markets (Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa) between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, showed that the African mobile app industry (which is predominantly Android) increased by 41 per cent in overall installations.

The report shared insights into how the African app market has fared since the pandemic broke out last year, showing that in the continent, Nigeria registered the highest growth, with a 43 per cent rise; South Africa’s market increased by 37 per cent and Kenya increased 29 per cent.

According to the report, from the first half of 2020 to the first half of 2021, the African mobile app industry increased by 41 per cent in overall installs. This was analyzed from 6,000 apps and two billion installs in the three markets.

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The report recalled that on March 22, 2020, Rwanda imposed Africa’s first lockdown. Subsequently, other countries followed; Kenya (March 25), South Africa (March 27), and Nigeria (March 30).

It noted that as more people spent time at home from Q2 2020, app installs increased by 20 per cent across the three countries. South Africans were the quickest to take to their phones as the lockdowns hit with installs increasing by 17 per cent from the previous quarter.

On the other hand, Nigerians and Kenyans recorded a two per cent and nine per cent increase, respectively. The report attributed the disparity to the varying levels of restrictions each country faced; South Africa experienced the strictest and most frequent.

AppsFlyer observed that gaming apps showed strong performance between Q1 and Q2 2020. The segment experienced a 50 per cent growth compared to an eight per cent increase in nongaming apps pulled. It followed a global trend where gaming apps surged to a record high in Q2 2020, at 14 billion downloads globally.

According to AppsFlyer, the biggest trend it noticed was in in-app purchasing revenue. In Q3 2020, in-app purchasing revenue numbers grew with a staggering 136 per cent increase compared to Q2 2020, and accounted for 33 per cent of 2020’s total revenue, “highlighting just how much African consumers were spending within apps, from retail purchases to gaming upgrades.”

In-app purchasing revenue among South African consumers increased by 213 per cent, while Nigeria and Kenyan consumers recorded 141 per cent and 74 per cent increases, respectively.

On the advertising front and on an almost year-on-year basis, in-app advertising revenue also increased significantly as Africans were glued to their smartphones more than ever. Per the report, in-app advertising revenue increased 167 per cent between Q2 2020 to Q1 2021.

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For gaming and non-gaming apps, which was highlighted between the first two quarters, they both increased by 44 per cent and 40 per cent respectively in Q1 2021 compared to Q2 2020.

Commenting on the trends highlighted in the report, RVP EMEA & Strategic Projects, AppsFlyer, Daniel Junowicz, said: “We’re proud to combine forces with Google to provide businesses with the insights and technology needed to succeed on mobile in Africa. The mobile app space in Africa is thriving, despite the turmoil of the last year. Installs are growing, and consumers are spending more money than ever before, highlighting just how important mobile can be for businesses when it comes to driving revenue.

“As a result, mobile marketing is becoming increasingly important for businesses across the continent. Being able to make data-driven informed decisions, and understand the ROI on marketing campaigns will be key to any app marketers success.”

Apps Lead for Africa at Google, Rama Afullo, added: “While it’s clear that mobile adoption is increasing, there’s still room for growth when it comes to app marketing, with many marketers in the nascent stage of their app maturity journey.

“Taking advantage of app promotion and engagement tools like Google’s App Campaigns, using analytics and measurement tools, and working with mobile measurement partners like AppsFlyer, will be key for companies looking to grow their user base, drive customer value and continue improving the user experience.”

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