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Why is the iPhone so unpopular in Africa? Exploring Local Circumstances: Forefront of Mobile Payment (Extra Edition)-Engadget Japan Version

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Suddenly, I'm now in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, a small country in central Africa. Kobe City's entrepreneurship experience program in RwandaKobe Startup Africa"As part of the tour, we will cover local companies and infrastructure.

The country of Rwanda is well known for its genocide in 1994, but after the end of the chaos Paul Kagame took over as president in 2000, before being called an "African miracle." Kigali, which has revived rapidly and is now at its heart, is said to be the safest and cleanest city on the continent.

In Rwanda, however, the country's average annual income is around $ 400, and nearly 80% of its population is engaged in primary industry. It is said that there is a nearly 10-fold income gap between urban and rural areas.

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▲ The road around the market in Kigali city, the capital of Rwanda. Rwanda is known as one of the cleanest and best roads in Africa, but there are still many unpaved roads

Even under such low income, the mobile infrastructure has been developed and is spreading rapidly. According to Patrick Singa Muhoza of Babyl Health Rwanda, a provider of healthcare services for mobile users, the mobile penetration rate in Rwanda in 2016 was 60% in 2016, with 10% of smartphone users in the country. [As mentioned below, the actual penetration rate is about 4-5% since Rwanda generally has multiple lines], but as of 2020 the mobile penetration rate is 80% and smartphone users are 40% %.

While mobile phone is an important infrastructure, mobile apps and services based on web browsing are difficult to establish due to smartphone penetration, and inevitably use voice and SIM card commands called USSD [Unstructured Supplementary Service Data]. Will be offered through all menus.

This time, I would like to introduce a little bit of the mobile situation in Rwanda, focusing on the Kimilonko market, which is said to be one of the largest local markets in the country.

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▲ Kimilonko market, one of the largest local markets in Kigali city


Two carriers can be selected, multiple SIMs are commonplace

This phenomenon is also common in developing countries such as Southeast Asia, but the spread of mobile phones before the spread of PCs and fixed lines has led to the spread of social infrastructure for communications around mobile phones in Africa, including Rwanda. A common trend. In addition, the power situation in Kigali city, which is the largest city, is bad, and daily power outages are likely to be one of the factors that spread the use of batteries with batteries as standard.

There are two types of mobile carriers available in Rwanda: MTN Rwanda, a South African carrier, and airtel Africa, an Indian carrier. The latter was due to the merger with a carrier called Tigo, operated by Millicom, and airtel became the surviving company and emerged as the second carrier in Japan.

In Rwanda, there is almost no such thing as a so-called "mobile shop", and most of them consist of a branch office with a carrier logo on a tent as shown in the photo. Here, you can purchase a scratch card for top-up or use a mobile money service such as "MoMo" launched by MTN, a "cash-in [cash-in]" or "cash-out [cash-out]" window. Use as

The locations of the branch offices are places such as Kimilonko Market where many people gather, key points along the main road, and shops in the city. However, there are many branch offices every few meters in the Kimilonco market, and it is easy to ask, "Is this really necessary?", But it means that there are so many MTN users.

On the other hand, airtel's branch offices are overwhelmingly small compared to MTN, and instead it is possible to see advertisements and logos painted on the walls around the city, and against MTN which is disadvantageous in share There is an intention to appeal and make a difference.

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▲ There are two major carriers [MTN and airtel] in the Kimilonco market, which have branch offices here and there, which are the contact points for related services.

As mentioned above, although feature phones are often used, in Rwanda it is common to use multiple SIMs, and the main line for voice calls is a feature phone, various applications [such as Google Maps] and WhatsApp popular in Africa It is not unusual to use multiple SNS tools in the form of smartphones.

It seems that the reasons behind this usage style are that "calls between the same carriers will be cheaper" and "competitive carriers will launch cheaper campaigns to compete, so use them". In fact, there are cases where users with multiple SIMs have 3-4 SIMs, which is another trend different from the popularity of dual SIM terminals in China.

Also, when we listened to the trends of the terminals used, we found that "Samsung and Tecno are popular terminals. However, Samsung is expensive." It can be said that the handling of Samsung is a symbol of luxury terminals and rich people.

On the other hand, Tecno is also a Chinese [Hong Kong] manufacturer, but there are electronics retailers with Tecno signage all over the city, which seems to be recognized as such. One of the reasons for Tecno's popularity is that "there is support from women in terms of design."

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▲ Feature phones are still the mainstream in Rwanda. About 1300 yen in Japanese yen with Tecno terminal

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▲ Smartphones are also spreading rapidly. The popularity is still Tecno terminals, the cheapest one is from 7000 yen, the higher model is about 20,000 yen

Reason "No use on iPhone"

After obtaining the information below, with the cooperation of an owner who has a store in the Kimilonco market, he succeeded in showing multiple users' terminals and usage status.

What each user has in common is that they use WhatsApp as SNS, and as mentioned above, the user base in Rwanda is biased toward feature phones, so apps with a strong local color are not used. Was.

Some of the highlights on the home screen of the owner terminal below are video playback apps like "Video", "YouTube" and "VLC", and "Shazam", which picks up music from a microphone and searches for songs. The video you are watching is called "comedian" etc., which means that the demand for content is high, but "Rwanda's communication fee is high. Because you use up the communication capacity every time you watch a video, you can save while charging and enjoy having fun each time Yes. "

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▲ They showed me the terminal of the owner of the Kimilonko Market store that helped me in the interview. The main contact tool is WhatsApp, and Xender is a popular app

That's where the app called "Xender" comes in. Connect two devices via Bluetooth peer-to-peer and share apps and content in smartphones without a mobile line. If you have more than one, you can enjoy it yourself, and share your apps and content owned by friends with Xender instead of downloading them separately from the cloud via mobile lines. In this way, content can be obtained quickly without paying high communication charges.

However, with this mechanism, the app must be obtained via the App Store, and it can not be used on iOS with storage access restriction. The fact that the iPhone is not popular in Rwanda does not mean that the price is high and it is a flower of Takamine, but Android is opposite to the Japanese iPhone, “ The method of sharing content among friends is limited '' Because of being preferred.

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▲ Xender is a mechanism to share apps and content via Bluetooth without a mobile line. The difficulty is that it is not available on the iPhone due to the mechanism

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▲ When sharing content between friends on Xender, terminals are connected by displaying the QR code and reading it

As mentioned above, the mobile plan contract in Rwanda is fundamentally different from Japan. First of all, it is not a postpaid type but a prepaid type, so it is necessary to finish top-up in advance. And instead of holding users with an attractive monthly plan, rivals check each other out and launch campaigns, so you can use SIM cards in some cases.

In addition, plans will be purchased from the USSD menu, but basically, instead of buying a large-capacity plan at once, purchase a minimum plan such as 1 GB each time and consume it as "small" The style seems to be common.

In the case of the store owner mentioned earlier, "If you have a lot of [for example, watching videos], you will use about 3 GB a month", and you are charging data capacity every time.

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▲ It is said that mobile usage plans are not monthly subscriptions, but are available on a jersey basis depending on usage. Top-up operation is not an app, but uses USSD menus on feature phones and smartphones

In Rwanda, where resources and land are limited, the country is trying to increase its influence under the banner of ICT nations. On the other hand, the infrastructure that underpins it is still weak, and the level of digitalization in the population has not yet caught up with it. This is a very interesting situation in developing countries that is different from China.

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