How Young African Entrepreneurs can Make Money from the $935.3 billion Mobile App Industry

by Sylvie Tamanda

In today’s fast-paced world, mobile applications have become an integral part of our daily lives, revolutionising the way we communicate, learn, and conduct business.

In 2022, mobile ad spend soared to an impressive $336 billion, marking a remarkable 13.8% increase from the previous year. While Android and iOS app consumer spending showed a slight dip, reaching $129 billion, the potential for massive earnings remains undeniable.

iOS emerged as the undisputed leader in app consumer spending, accounting for a staggering 67% share in 2022. Moreover, games continued to dominate the consumer app spending landscape, comprising a whopping 63% of the total expenditure. With Google Play contributing a significant $37.3 billion, or approximately 38% of the overall amount, the market’s profit potential shines even brighter.

Subscription-based revenues witnessed a substantial surge, reaching an impressive $17.1 billion in 2022. A massive 77% of this revenue growth was driven by the iOS platform, cementing its position as a goldmine for savvy app entrepreneurs.

These staggering figures serve as a clear indication that the mobile app industry is teeming with untapped financial opportunities. Don’t miss your chance to claim your share of this rapidly expanding market and unlock the potential for substantial earnings.

Across the vibrant continent of Africa, mobile app development has opened up a world of opportunities for young entrepreneurs. The rising smartphone penetration and growing tech-savvy population make Africa an exciting landscape for innovative app solutions that address local challenges and needs. Get ready to dive into the mobile app industry and seize your slice of the lucrative pie!

But before we get to the step-by-step guide for establishing your app business,  i’d like to share the reasons why this is a brilliant venture and why the industry is forecast to hit $935.3 billion in 2023.

Innovation and Technology in Africa


Reasons why Mobile App Development in Africa is a viable business opportunity

Mobile app development offers young African entrepreneurs a plethora of compelling reasons to consider it as a viable business opportunity. Here are some key reasons:

  1. Rapid Mobile Penetration: Africa has witnessed a significant surge in mobile phone adoption, with a growing number of individuals gaining access to smartphones. This widespread mobile penetration creates a massive potential user base for mobile apps, presenting a vast market opportunity for young entrepreneurs.
  2. Addressing Local Challenges: Mobile apps have the potential to address unique challenges faced by communities in Africa. Whether it’s healthcare accessibility, agriculture, education, or financial inclusion, entrepreneurs can create apps that directly tackle local issues and positively impact people’s lives.
  3. Youthful Demographics: Africa is home to a large and youthful population, and young entrepreneurs are well-positioned to understand the needs and preferences of their peers. Developing apps that cater to the interests and aspirations of youth can lead to greater engagement and success.
  4. Job Creation: By venturing into mobile app development, young African entrepreneurs can create employment opportunities for fellow youth. Building a skilled workforce and collaborating with developers, designers, and marketers fosters economic growth and sustainability.
  5. Innovative Solutions: Mobile apps have the potential to provide innovative solutions that transcend traditional barriers in sectors like education, healthcare, finance, and more. Entrepreneurs can bring disruptive technologies to the market, revolutionising industries and driving progress.
  6. Global Reach: Well-designed mobile apps have the capacity to reach a global audience. By crafting apps that resonate with users beyond Africa’s borders, young entrepreneurs can tap into international markets and achieve financial success on a broader scale.
  7. Digital Transformation: As Africa embraces digital transformation, mobile apps play a pivotal role in shaping the continent’s future. By contributing to the development of digital infrastructure, entrepreneurs can be at the forefront of Africa’s technological advancement.
  8. Tech Innovation Hubs: Many African countries are witnessing the emergence of tech innovation hubs and startup ecosystems that provide support, mentorship, and funding opportunities for young entrepreneurs. This ecosystem facilitates the growth of mobile app ventures.
  9. Financial Inclusion: Mobile apps can help bridge the gap in financial services by providing access to banking, payments, and microfinance options for individuals in remote areas. By promoting financial inclusion, entrepreneurs can empower marginalised communities.
  10. Scalability and Low Costs: Mobile apps offer scalability and relatively low development costs compared to traditional businesses. This allows entrepreneurs to start small, test their ideas, and gradually expand as they gain traction and resources.
  11. User-Centric Solutions: Building user-centric apps that focus on providing seamless experiences can lead to higher user retention and loyalty. Entrepreneurs who prioritise user feedback and continually improve their apps are more likely to succeed.
  12. Mobile Commerce Opportunities: E-commerce and mobile payments are on the rise in Africa. Developing apps that facilitate online transactions and simplify the buying process can tap into this growing mobile commerce trend.

Now that we have covered the reasons for starting an app business, let’s explore the list the different types of apps that can be suitable and financially successful on the African continent.


Mobile Penetration, Financial Inclusion through Mobile Apps


Different types of Mobile App Development in Africa that are suitable and lucrative.

  1. E-commerce and Online Marketplaces: Mobile apps that enable users to buy and sell products and services online have tremendous potential in Africa. These apps can cater to various industries, including fashion, electronics, agriculture, and handmade crafts.
  2. Digital Payment and Fintech Apps: With the increasing adoption of digital payment methods in Africa, apps that facilitate secure and convenient transactions are in high demand. Mobile banking, mobile wallets, and peer-to-peer payment apps can thrive in this space.
  3. Agricultural and Agribusiness Apps: Agriculture is a vital sector in Africa, and apps that offer agricultural information, marketplaces for farmers, weather updates, and supply chain management can empower farmers and boost agricultural productivity.
  4. Educational Apps: The demand for quality education and e-learning solutions is growing in Africa. Educational apps that offer interactive learning experiences, language learning tools, and skill development resources can find success.
  5. Healthcare and Telemedicine Apps: Access to healthcare is a significant challenge in some regions of Africa. Telemedicine apps, health tracking apps, and healthcare information platforms can bridge the gap and provide essential medical services.
  6. Transportation and Logistics Apps: Urbanisation and the need for efficient transportation solutions create opportunities for ride-hailing apps, delivery services, and logistics management platforms.
  7. Tourism and Travel Apps: Africa’s rich cultural heritage and diverse landscapes attract tourists from around the world. Apps that offer travel guides, accommodation bookings, and curated experiences can cater to the tourism industry.
  8. Social Networking Apps: With increasing internet connectivity, social networking apps tailored to the African market can foster community engagement and connection.
  9. Entertainment and Gaming Apps: Mobile gaming and entertainment apps, including music and video streaming platforms, can tap into the growing demand for digital entertainment.
  10. Real Estate Apps: As urbanisation continues, real estate apps that connect buyers, sellers, and renters can thrive in the African market.
  11. Language Translation and Localization Apps: Africa’s linguistic diversity creates opportunities for language translation and localization apps that aid communication across different regions and languages.
  12. Renewable Energy Solutions Apps: Apps that provide information on renewable energy sources, energy-saving tips, and solar panel installations can support Africa’s transition to sustainable energy solutions.
  13. Fitness and Health Apps: With the rising focus on health and fitness, apps that offer workout routines, nutrition advice, and wellness tracking can cater to health-conscious individuals.
  14. Job Search and Employment Apps: As the job market evolves, mobile apps that connect job seekers with employers and offer skill development resources can be financially viable.
  15. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Apps: Leveraging AI and ML technologies, apps that provide personalised recommendations, language processing, and smart automation can offer unique value to users.

Remember, for any app to be financially successful in Africa, it’s crucial to conduct market research, understand local needs and preferences, and tailor the app to suit the specific context and challenges of the target market.

Young African Entrepreneurs


Step-by-Step Guide: How to Start Mobile App Development in Africa

Step 1: Identify the Problem and Define Your niche.

Before diving into mobile app development, conduct thorough research to identify the specific challenges or gaps in the African market that your app can address. Define your niche and understand the target audience’s needs, preferences, and pain points.

Step 2: Conduct Market Research

Perform a comprehensive market analysis to understand the competitive landscape and existing mobile apps in your chosen niche. Identify potential competitors, study their strengths and weaknesses, and pinpoint areas where your app can offer unique value.

Step 3: Create a Solid Business Plan

Develop a well-structured business plan that outlines your app’s purpose, target audience, revenue model, marketing strategy, and development timeline. A clear roadmap will guide you throughout the development process and help secure potential investors or funding.

Step 4: Design the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI)

Work on creating an intuitive and user-friendly app design that enhances the user experience. Collaborate with skilled designers to develop an appealing UI that reflects your brand and resonates with your target audience.

Step 5: Choose the Right Development Platform

Select the appropriate platform for app development based on your target audience and budget. You can choose between native (iOS/Android) or cross-platform development tools, each with its pros and cons. Remember to focus on optimising performance and ensuring smooth functionality.

Step 6: Find Skilled App Developers

If you lack coding expertise, partner with experienced app developers who understand your vision and can translate it into reality. Look for reputable development firms, freelancers, or consider joining tech communities where you can find skilled developers.

Step 7: Test, Test, Test!

Conduct thorough testing to identify and fix any bugs or issues before launching your app. Beta testing with a small group of users can provide valuable feedback and insights for improvements.

Step 8: Launch and Market Your App

With your app fully developed and tested, it’s time for the big launch! Use digital marketing channels, social media, and influencers to create buzz around your app. Engage with your target audience and encourage them to spread the word.

Step 9: Monitor Performance and Gather Feedback

Continuously monitor app performance, user engagement, and feedback. Regularly update your app with new features, improvements, and bug fixes based on user input.

Step 10: Scale and Expand

As your app gains traction and establishes its presence in the market, explore opportunities for scaling and expanding your app to reach a broader audience. Seek partnerships, explore new markets, and stay adaptable to changing trends.


Mobile App Development in Africa


List of 10 most poplar apps created by Africans for Africans

  1. M-Pesa: Africa’s #1 Payments App M-Pesa, which means “money” in Swahili, has revolutionised mobile money services. Operating in seven countries, M-Pesa empowers over 37 million customers, offering services like international transfers, loans, and even healthcare provisions. During my 4 days trip to Kenya, the impact of this app could be felt. From the woman roasted corn on the side of  the street, to bike riders and hotels, everyone uses M-pesa
  2. iCow: Transforming Agriculture for Farmers iCow, an ambitious social enterprise, boosts millions of farmers’ productivity and prosperity. Through their mobile apps, farmers gain easy access to relevant knowledge and connect with other agricultural players.
  3. FarmCrowdy: Empowering Rural Farmers Digitally FarmCrowdy’s digital agriculture platform empowers rural farmers with seeds, farm inputs, and valuable training. Additionally, it provides a marketplace for them to sell their produce.
  4. M-Farm: Timely Information for Farmers M-Farm fosters collaboration among farmers, cooperatives, specialists, suppliers, and agro-vet stores. It ensures timely access to vital information on prices, weather, and other agricultural aspects.
  5. FlutterWave: Simplifying Payment Acceptance FlutterWave’s payment infrastructure bridges Africa with the global economy. Their platform enables Africans to build and accept payments worldwide, fostering the growth of global businesses.
  6. Paxful: Bitcoin Trading Made Easy Paxful, an Estonia-based peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange, offers a user-friendly app to buy, sell, and trade bitcoin effortlessly. Additionally, they recommend Redeeem for trading gift cards for bitcoin.
  7. Refunite: Reuniting Families Through Technology With a noble mission, Refunite helps refugees and displaced persons search for missing loved ones and family. It’s the largest missing persons platform in Africa, bringing hope to many.
  8. MedAfrica: Connecting Africans to Health Services MedAfrica focuses on increasing access to health-related information and services in emerging markets. The app provides direct access to health content and local services and even connects users with doctors.
  9. GiftedMom: A Lifeline for Mothers’ Health GiftedMom, a leading mobile health information provider in Africa, reaches millions who lack access to basic healthcare. They offer pregnant women and new mothers free access to health information and critical referrals to healthcare services.
  10. IROKOtv: Thousands of Streaming Shows at Your Fingertips IROKOtv, the Nigerian movie and TV series app, boasts a vast library of Nigerian and Ghanaian films, along with Bollywood, Hollywood, and Korean movies. With offline viewing and a global user base, IROKOtv keeps entertainment accessible and enjoyable.

Mobile app development in Africa is a gateway to unlocking immense potential for young entrepreneurs. By identifying local challenges and offering innovative solutions through mobile apps, you can make a lasting impact on communities while building a successful business venture. Remember, the journey may have challenges, but with determination, creativity, and strategic planning, your app can flourish in this exciting and dynamic market.

Embrace the possibilities, and let your mobile app dreams take flight!

Read Step-by-Step Guide on How Young People Can Start an Agriculture Business in Africa
Read Step-by-Step Guide To Start an E-commerce Business
Read How to Start an Organic Compost Fertilizer Business: A Step-by-Step Guide
Read Win $25000 Grant For Young Africans with a scalable Technology related Project
Read Renewable Energy Business Opportunities for Young Entrepreneurs in Africa: Starting Green Ventures with Limited Capital


As per the revenue segments from Statista Insights, the gaming app industry seems to be the most profitable industry.


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