While East Africa has tended to grab the headlines as the mover and shaker in mobile platform innovation, there’s an imminent boom due to emerge in West Africa. The GSMA’s most recent report on the West African mobile ecosystem contains all the signals of this happening within the next 3 or so years.
Even in mobile money solutions, where East Africa has had a headstart (and worldwide fame for M-Pesa), numerous new solutions have been launched in West Africa and subscriber numbers show double digit growth.
In addition, both smartphone penetration (~30% of all subscribers) and internet use are growing as well.
All of this, taken together with the growth of incubators, accelerators and variations of tech hubs to support the startup ecosystem provide evidence of a transformation underway.
Does West Africa have the potential to surpass the success of East Africa? I believe so, given its larger population, greater numbers of dynamic economies from both Francophone and Anglophone regions, and the side effect of years of watching East Africa grab the headlines.