Connecting Africa: 5 fun facts about the most misunderstood continent

Africa has to be one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented continents globally. There are so many misconceptions and stereotypes regarding the “Mother Continent.” This fact is apparent in daily conversations and different forms of media, and most people do not even know that Africa is a continent and not a country.

If you're reading this and you're not from Africa, pause for 10 seconds and ask yourself, “What do I know about Africa?“

What comes to mind?

Most of the images your mind may conjure up include deserts, starving children, makeshift houses, safaris, wild animals, and so much more. This result is because these are the only visuals you might have seen in media for years.

Western media has always controlled the lens through which the world sees Africa. However, with the onset of new media, Africans have actively shared positive images that tell a deeper story about the continent. Like any other continent, Africa is a hidden gem that deserves shedding more light on.

There may be so much more to what the average person from other continents knows about Africa. The African continent, for example, is not homogenous as most people assume. Which of these six facts did you know?

1. Africa is a diverse continent with 54 nations.

There are 54 countries in Africa, and each has its government, constitution, economy, and critical industries that set them apart. Doing business in Africa requires specific country approaches.

2. There are 1000-2000 languages spoken in Africa.

The next time someone says the phrase "the African language," ask them which of the 2000 languages they are talking about. Africa is one of the largest multilingual continents. Over 2000 ethnic groups and 1000-2000 languages exist in Africa. There are 42 tribes in Kenya and 68 languages. Many Africans are trilingual and speak their mother-tongue/ vernacular, English, and Swahili (the national language).

While doing business in Africa, you might have to research which language people speak in the country you visit. Partnering with local companies or local professionals who can help you break the language barrier is advised. For example, just like how Italians prefer to speak Italian, you'll also notice that most Africans choose to talk in either their national language or their ethnic language. English and other European languages are secondary.

3. More than half of the people live in rural areas.

Most people think Africa consists only of savanna grasslands dotted with wild animals. While these ecosystems make up more than 75% of the continent, there exist wetlands, grasslands, mountains ranges, rivers, lakes, and more. Africa also consists of many urban areas with vibrant cities. However, since agriculture is the most significant economic activity in many African countries, more than half of people live in the countryside/ rural areas. 47% of Africa’s population is urban, according to Statista.

4. There are 45 currencies in Africa.

Currencies in Africa include the Nigerian Naira, South African Rand, Egyptian Pound, Ethiopian Birr, Zambian Kwacha, and Kenyan Shilling, among others. In Africa, cash remains the most common form of payment, and people prefer to exchange physical money for goods and services. However, to facilitate trade, money transfer, and saving, other modes of exchange are emerging. These include;

  • Bank Transfers. 67% of the African population do not have a traditional bank account presently and this poses a challenge for them with regards to sending or receiving money. Nevertheless, things are improving and it is forecasted that 456 million adults (out of 1. 5 billion) will have banks by the end of 2022. One problem with bank-to-bank transfers is that they are costly. For this reason, microfinance institutions and other innovative companies are trying to create solutions for the underbanked.
  • Digital Transfers. These allow people in the continent to send and receive money to and from international businesses/people. Not every country can access digital transfers at the moment. For example, PayPal transactions are blocked in Tanzania and allowed in Kenya. In Eritrea, people can use a PayPal service called Xoom to transact. Other services that allow people to send and receive money from abroad include Skrill, Payoneer, and World Remit. Although these services are revolutionary, they do not reach the smaller communities in rural areas that do not have access to internet services or even an email address.
  • Mobile Money. Mobile money payments are trying to strengthen their foothold in different regions in Africa. One pioneer for this type of payment is M-Pesa which is a mobile-phone-based money transfer invented in Kenya. 58% of Kenyan adults have an M-Pesa account. More African countries are creating and adopting their local version of M-Pesa as users only need a basic phone to access this service. 60% of people in sub-Saharan Africa have a mobile money account which is a good microfinance solution for those without traditional bank accounts.
  • Cryptocurrencies. According to Africareport, the adoption of digital currencies increased by 1200% from July 2020 to June 2021. However, most banks in the continent continue to block cryptocurrency transactions and users do peer-to-peer trading if they want to trade these currencies. This form of payment is only accessible to less than 10% of the population because it requires the user to be highly skilled and knowledgeable.

5. Africa has a growing internet & mobile phone penetration rate.

Africa has a growing internet penetration rate, and currently, four out of ten people in Africa use the internet either by phone or computer. According to Statista data, the “2020 internet penetration rate in Africa was 43%. However, this is still a tiny number compared to continents like Europe, whose internet penetration rate is 92%. There is an excellent opportunity for companies aiming to offer solutions, especially to regions that do not access the internet.

As 75% of the internet is accessed through smartphones, the mobile penetration rate provides some insights. Over 53.3 million people in Africa (out of approximately 1.5 billion) have mobile phones, and 23.4 million have smartphones. A sizeable amount of the adult population does not have phones. However, the market is making some strides. According to The Guardian, Africa’s mobile phone market grew by 14% in quarter one of 2021. Nevertheless, some underserviced regions still require affordable devices and innovative internet solutions.

Our solution

Calling people beyond country borders in Africa is very expensive, and data costs are even higher. This is where we come in. At TalK360, we believe that everyone should connect to the world, and we are currently helping the underserviced communities in the world. To bridge this distance, our mobile calling app connects over 150 thousand people globally to friends and family in places where there is no continuous and reliable internet and reception.

While enabling this though, we realized that another challenge is that over 70% of all African consumers are unable to purchase international digital services, like ours. The African payment culture is diverse and scattered. Each country has its unique card or wallet solution. All 54 local African currencies are not supported by international services, and the Africans are not able to pay for digital services in the same way as the western world can. To connect these people to international paid services, we are building the world's first single payment platform combining all local African currencies and payment methods. We also support many payment channels including mobile payments like M-Pesa.

In short, Talk360 is an international calling app that enables you to call any mobile and landline number in the world. Unlike free calling services, the receiver of the call does not need the internet or the app installed. Buying credit is also easy as you can use your local currency and preferred payment method.

The time to connect the world, is now!

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