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COVID-19, 4G cost dominates North Africa’s digital landscape

An overview of the North African digital market shows that 44% (represented by young male and upper-middle class) dominate the country’s user landscape.

This is according to French telecommunications firm Orange’s third edition of its Observatory of Digital Uses, which focuses on digital behaviour and related development, COVID-19’s impact on business operations and digital maturity.

It also finds a high level of digital uses among remote work in the region (55%)and notes that the proportion of the four profiles of users - low, medium, strong and advanced - in North Africa is relatively similar with Europe, but contrary to that of Sub-Saharan Africa.

“In our geographies (North Africa), men are more tech-savvy than women,” says Ismael Belkhayat, whose B2B e-commerce platform Chari recently acquired the credit branch of Axa Assurance Maroc, for US$22-million, about the findings.

Belkhayat adds that men tend to test new mobile services, such as ride-hailing and marketplaces, first and this could explain the high usage.

Belkhayat attributes the higher level of digital use and its penetration among the upper-middle class to the prevailing high cost of 4G services - since those in the category are mostly on mobile post-paid plans, while the lower class use pre-paid plans which are limited in terms of data.

Orange research showed that the use of digital tools to maintain communication at the height of the pandemic was the highest across all regions surveyed.

Digital tech users in North Africa, focused on digital health services and how to use health apps, websites etc.

Belkhayat agrees that the pandemic had a major impact on digital communication use. “The consumption of digital content has skyrocketed and many services came to life during the pandemic.”

He said that retailers invested in B2B e-commerce platforms like Chari to safeguard business levels amid limited human interaction.

“They got used to it,” he says. “So when the pandemic stopped, they kept using Chari.”

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