Euromonitor International, a research company recently released a study into Internet access and usage in emerging markets from 2011 to 2020. They focused their attentions on 25 countries, which include only one sub-Saharan African country: South Africa. (See the image associated with their report at the bottom of this entry).

It boggles my mind that organisations around the world continually just ignore the ±35 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. This is the fastest growing demographic region of the world, with nearly as many people as India or China. None of the countries in this region is in economic decline – in fact, many have growth rates above 6%, and a few are in double figures. In some industries, these regions represent the fastest growing markets in the world. And that couldn’t be more true than with telecoms. How could a study like this just ignore Africa, but especially exclude Nigeria and Kenya?

To be fair, they probably simply used one of the standard definitions of “emerging market“. These apply to countries with rapid growth and industrialisation. But the world is moving so quickly right now that this term is obviously out-of-date. Wikipedia does a great synthesis of the various “official” definitions, and 44 countries emerge on their list. Other economist suggest as many as 81 countries now fit the definition – for example, Forbes.

So, it might just have been laziness, but the Euromonitor research excluded the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market – Nigeria – when looking to assess Internet and data usage over the next decade. You’d struggle to imagine that in 2020 we’ll look back at this report and say they were correct to just ignore Africa.

Too many companies are doing just that. And they’ll kick themselves at the end of this decade. But, then, they probably were ignoring South East Asia about two decades ago, so they have some form in this department.

My simple message: stop ignoring Africa. It is the last frontier.

The Euromonitor Report infographic (click on the image for full size):

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