Nigeria has become a pioneer and a true brain wrecker for the mobile industry and global retailers with a growth rate of mobile internet penetration more than double that of western countries. So much so that it urges us to take a deep look and try to understand why and how Nigeria has managed to hijack the traditional technological evolution of the West to emerge as the utmost digitally integrated economy.

There is no denying that Nigeria will lead the way in terms of digital sophistication. With a GDP forecasted to spur from $178 billion in 2012 to $700 billion in 2020, and a population that’s expected to rocket, this is definitely where the mobile revolution is taking place.

We are focusing today on the striking evolution of the mobile industry in Nigeria, the imminent smartphone revolution and the profile of the 21st century mobile-savvy consumer by putting to good use the infinite knowledge we have acquired about the Nigerian market over the last three years.


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I}    Welcome to Africa’s most mobile-savvy country

Booming Smartphone Sales

Nigeria is poised to become one of the most mobile-savvy countries in the world with an astounding 140 million mobile subscribers in 2015 (Financial Times), transforming the way companies do business in Nigeria and how they address the customer.

140 million phone subscribers

The most phenomenal evolution of the mobile industry in Nigeria is the exponential growth of smartphone sales. If the exact number of smartphone today on the market is hard to get an exact figure for, we know that we sold more smartphone at Jumia in July 2015 than we did during the whole year of 2013.

We estimate that there are 30% of smartphone users among the 140 mobile subscribers and this share will only get bugger with national smartphone sales in Nigeria expected to rocket to 12 million for 2015.

140 2

Smartphone retailer Newcomers have dynamited traditional mobile retail market

Smartphone acquisition in Nigeria has been favored by three factors:

First, new smartphone retailers have entered the Nigerian market, bringing the prices of smartphone down substantially and making it accessible to a larger fringe of the population. When doing the research on the average price of a smartphone sold on our website in 2013, compared to the price we sell them for on average in early 2015, the results were simply dumbfounding. We observed a drastic decrease of the average retail price of a smartphone, tumbling down from 55.279 naira in 2013 to 25.811 naira.


Competition has multiplied and accelerated in this entry-level market with the introduction of smartphone retailers such as Infinix and InnJoo currently selling smartphones as cheap as 10.000 naira. Infinix and InnJoo both understood the need to target the entry-level market and to sell their phones through online platforms. InnJoo entered the Nigerian market exclusively through Jumia while Infinix has repeatedly launched its smartphones in exclusivity with Jumia. This fierce competition is driven by Jumia who has been pressuring the smartphone retailers to bring their prices down since its creation in 2012. Such competition can only lead the way to even better offers for the smartphone-savvy user.

Smartphone Brands have shifted their consumer focus on the youth and the middle class

Jumia and the smartphone retailers on the market have understood the potential of catering to a fringe of the population who is tech-savvy yet who cannot afford expensive smartphones: the youth segment.

This is a segment you definitely need to cater to in Nigeria as they represent 62.38% of the population (between age 0 and 25) and are the most tech-savvy. According to an AT Kearney and Quartz Study (Nov 14), Nigeria is 2nd after Brazil in the ultra-connected population ranking. 66% of Nigerians are online at least once every hour and 20% use internet at least 10 times a day.

International social networks have understood the potential of the youth in Nigeria and most particularly the way they surf on the internet. The best example can come from Facebook who totally adapted its offer to make it accessible to people who do not own a laptop, surf mostly via their mobile and even more, who do not have an email address. You can now register on Facebook using only your phone number… On a larger scale, the growing middle class expands steadily to reach 27% of the population by 2020 according to McKinsey and will have the purchasing power to acquire such smartphones on a regular basis thus fueling the demand.

Once you have understood the potential of the mobile industry and most particularly the smartphone industry, it is quite evident that the next push is for all companies to go mobile. This is a trend that has been settling in rapidly into the Nigerian landscape.

II The Nigerian consumer is pushing retailers to go mobile

From E-commerce to M-commerce

According to Google Africa, 76% of its users access Google via their mobile device. The figure for Jumia is quite similar with 70% of our users accessing Jumia on their phone. This brings a lot of concerns to mind: more than being user-friendly via computer, a website’s first imperative is to be completely mobile user friendly. E-commerces in Nigeria have thus been mobile commerces all along, providing an optimized version of their website for mobile as well as applications.


The Next Big Thing: The App

Comparing data from the use of our application with our mobile website, we are very confident at Jumia that apps are the next “it” thing in mobile trends in Nigeria. Applications are software applications developed specifically for use on small devices such as smartphones or tablets and have recently become the favorite access to content on a smartphone.

We witnessed at Jumia a colossal increase of our app downloads over the last year. We have had 255% more app downloads on both IOs and Android in the first 6 months of 2015 than through the entire year of 2014! The number of downloads on Android per month has grown by 90% between January and June 2015, Android remaining the favorite operating system in Nigeria with a whopping 93% of our app downloads done through the Google Play Store.


Apps have become the favorite access of Nigerians to the web

We believe that it will become the favored method of access to internet on smartphone for the following reasons:

It first provides an easier and facilitated access to content: you can indeed access your favorite websites in one click rather than going through the hassles of opening a web browser page and typing the address of the site.

A facilitated access to the website is also provided by the ability to generate push notifications on smartphones: looking at our data, we noticed this method of communication was one of the users’ favorite as it allows direct, instant contact.

Most and foremost, applications consume less data: Jumia application studies show that mobile users using the Jumia app compared to the mobile version of the website spend 3 to 5 times less data for similar actions.

76%benefits of apps

International social networks have also adapted their mobile app offers to areas with unreliable connection such as Nigeria.

To give just one example, Facebook launched in June 2015 FacebookLite, a Facebook application made for users who do not have access to 3g or 4g connections, requiring less than 1MB to download and designed to be fast. MTN also understood the potential of applications and the appetite of its consumers for it and thus launched in May 2015 the AppTitude Campaign, promoting even further app downloads.

The biggest move towards promoting application adoption by the consumer might well be the initiative MTN and Jumia launched this week to provide free access to the Jumia application to MTN users. Lasting six months, this campaign is aimed at facilitating the access to applications by making the Jumia app totally data free.

How do Nigerian consumers use their applications?

Nigerians remain social networks aficionados and it is no surprise that the most popular apps remain social networking apps with Whatsapp, Messenger, BBM, Facebook and Instagram respectively ranking 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 7th on Google Play Store in Nigeria. Jumia Nigeria App is the 8th most downloaded free app ranking on the Google play store, right after Instagram and is the first mobile retailer in the ranking, far above any other online retailer apps.

ranking of apps on android

Judging from our analysis of the Jumia application usage, Nigerians seem to be much more comfortable and predisposed to navigate on the app than on the mobile version. They spend on average more time on the app: the average duration of a session on the app between January and June 2015 is 9 minutes compared to 6 minutes on the mobile version of the website or the computer. They will also be much more likely to pay us a visit on our app as they usually visit the app four times every month compared to twice a month for the mobile version.

mobile version

Last but not least, the app user is a mobile phone and a fashion addict, emphasizing the nature of youth spending in Nigerian retail: Jumia’s selection of fashion brands and smartphone brands which can fit into a tight budget has rightly targeted the youth segment of the population who will be the most likely to be strongly interested by such products.

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This White Paper was written by Bertille Guitton