Mobile Apps

Stricter Lockdowns in SA Puts It In Front Seat of App Downloads in Africa

By  |  July 21, 2021

South Africa, which faced one of the strictest lockdowns in the continent, also saw the highest growth with mobile app downloads increasing by 17% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the first quarter, according to a report by AppsFlyer. In comparison, Nigeria and Kenya which saw more muted lockdowns – saw only a 2% and 9% uptick in mobile app downloads respectively.

While users did install food delivery, e-commerce apps, the highest growth was seen in gaming apps with installs going up 50% in all three countries, said the report. Non-organic gaming installs also increased by 56% – showing that marketing and advertising spend has clearly helped companies. So how did food delivery, e-commerce apps fare? As per the report, non-gaming apps only increased by 8% for the same time period.

But when we look at data from AppAnnie that compares growth in the five-month period between October 2019 and February 2020, we can actually see a sharper growth. There was a 30% increase (Kenya 31%, Nigeria 32% and South Africa 31%) in-app downloads.

AppAnnie’s data also diverges from AppFlyers – when it comes to the content of downloads. It is possible that the divergence arises from the sample size of the collection. AppsFlyer did its analysis on 6,000 apps and 2 billion installs in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. App Annie looks at all downloads in these countries. So where do they differ?

While AppsFlyer talked of an upswing in gaming, App Annie data points to a 150% increase in consumption of business, 66% in news and magazines and 63% uptick in health and fitness apps.

Over a longer timeframe, 2020 versus year-to-date 2021, app installs have increased by 41% says AppsFlyer. Broken down by country, Nigeria showed the highest growth at 43%, followed by South Africa at 37% and Kenya at 29%. Again in the AppsFlyer report for 2020 vs 2021 – gaming installs were the highest at a 44% rise; while non-gaming increased by 40%.

For startups and app mobile developers, the focus on Android-first might continue. As the report says, non-organic installs on Android increased by 54%, compared to only 19% growth on iOS. Cost Per Install (CPI) on iOS also increased by a significant 21% between the second quarter and third quarter of 2020 — meaning iOS app developers were getting fewer installs for the same budget.

Another positive from the report for businesses would be that in-app purchasing (IAP) increased between July and September 2020 by 136% — showing that from retail purchases to gaming upgrades, users were loosening their purse strings at the height of the pandemic. Despite job losses and a slowdown in the economy, in-app purchase revenue went up 213% in South Africa, 141% in Nigeria and 74% in Kenya. The report also says a majority of these in-app purchases were e-commerce, food delivery, medicines and other non-gaming apps.

Another trend predicted could be the rise of more super-apps like the Vodacom-Alipay Super app that was first launched in South Africa this May. The report predicts that Africa might follow close on the heels of China – with its WeChat and Alipay; which can be used for multiple functions from banking to messaging to shopping and ride-hailing. While “all-in-one” apps are still new, the nimbleness and fast adoption seen in Africa could pave the way for them, said the AppsFlyer report.

But then what about poor infrastructure, lockdown-crimped earning capacity? GSMA data shows, mobile-internet adoption at the end of 2019 was at 26%, significantly lower than the global average of 49%. GSMA has not released 2020 numbers – but it is possible higher demand might have resulted in higher adoption. GSMA data also showed only 12% of consumers opened an installed app after 3 days – another indicator that super apps would be more than welcome in the continent; as they are providing more value to users with a multiservice offering.

“As Africans spend more time with smartphones, they were increasingly likely to spend money in apps, indicating just how important mobile can be for driving revenue,” said Daniel Junowicz, RVP EMEA & strategic projects, AppsFlyer.

Featured Image: PxHere

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