Digital Trends for MSMEs in 2022: Where Is Africa Heading?

Jun 21, 2022 | Blog, Industry Updates

Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are considered to be the backbone of the economic fabric of several countries, especially those in the African continent. In fact, MSMEs make up 90% of the businesses in Africa, and in some countries like Ghana, they account for 70% of the GDP.

However, the last two years have made it clear that digitalization is central to staying competitive and achieving sustainable, long-term success in today’s competitive world. Moreover, over 200 million people use the internet across Africa, with South Africa having the most number of internet users (68.2% of the population). 

If MSMEs are not taking advantage of the online world to promote and conduct their businesses, they’re missing out on a large number of potential customers. This is why businesses need to explore sustainable ways to establish a memorable online presence, run targeted ad campaigns, and switch to digital payments. Here are some of the digital trends MSMEs and digital marketers need to know to succeed in 2022 and beyond.

Top Digital Trends for African MSMEs in 2022

Facebook Is Critical for MSMEs

Digital marketers cannot deny the rising popularity of social platforms across African countries, with Nigeria having the largest number of social media users (32.90 million) in 2022. It is also no surprise that Facebook is the second most popular social media platform, surpassed only by Whatsapp. 

When we look at internet usage in South Africa, 92% of the population is on Facebook between 5 to 9 PM. We could even go as far as to say that Facebook is the internet for many Africans.

The biggest advantage of Facebook for both businesses and consumers is its Free Basic feature. Launched in 2015, it is an internet service that provides credit-free access to the app and website. This feature is designed to work on low-cost mobile phones, which make up the majority of mobile devices used in the continent. Facebook has now introduced Free Basic in 32 African countries, meaning users in these countries will be able to access Facebook even when they’ve run out of data credits.

Moreover, it is easy for even small startups to create a Facebook page and kickstart ad campaigns and other lead generation activities to attract new audiences. The diversity on the platform also means that MSMEs can effectively use Facebook ads to reach Africans of all ages, genders, and interests. All this makes Facebook an ideal platform for brand outreach for many MSMEs.

Paid Search Must Continue to Be a Top Priority

The rising number of internet users also means that most customer journeys start on search engines, making paid search marketing and SEO some of the most valuable tools in every digital marketer’s arsenal.

So it’s no surprise that MSMEs in Africa report that search marketing is the second most preferred digital marketing channel in the continent, with social media marketing being the most preferred channel. This is completely different from how it is in the American market, where paid search is the most preferred marketing channel with double the spend of paid social.

TikTok Is the Fastest Growing Social Media Platform

Since its launch in 2016, TikTok has steadily grown in popularity and is now one of the fastest-growing social media in the continent. It even outpaced YouTube and Google in Africa last year.

As of 2022, the platform has over 27.8 million users in northern Africa and 7.5 million users in southern Africa.

TikTok marketing presents MSMEs with a big opportunity to reach a wider audience in Africa, especially the younger population aged 15 and younger, which make up 40% of the African population. Digital marketers need to adjust their strategies and create engaging content that speaks to the interests of the growing TikTok community.

LTE Technology and the Bid to Double Mobile Internet Access

Since the launch of LTE ten years ago, mobile internet usage has expanded to 376 million users, which comprises a third to half the population in Sub-Saharan Africa. This number is steadily increasing each year, and in 5–10 years, there will be a generation comprised of digital natives who are mobile-first and mobile-only.

As more of Africa goes mobile, MSMEs will be able to effectively use mobile marketing to gain critical customer information that can inform many business decisions, attract new customers, manage day-to-day operations, and contribute to the local economy. The increased connectivity will also allow African MSMEs to compete with their multinational counterparts.

The Rising Popularity of eCommerce Platforms

The number of eCommerce users in Africa is expected to surpass half a billion by 2025. Moreover, African countries are leading the world in mobile internet usage, with 13% more usage than the global average. So MSMEs looking to sell online in Africa should prioritize a mobile-first approach to eCommerce.

Though the US eCommerce giant Amazon has opened its first African logistics center in Egypt, it has yet to gain popularity among the masses. Alternatively, African countries have their own popular eCommerce options like Jumia, a Nigerian eCommerce site popularly called “The Amazon of Africa.” As of now, the platform is partnered with more than 110,000 active sellers and individuals. 

South Africa has its own eCommerce platform called Takealot, which is based in Cape Town. Takealot is also South Africa’s largest online retailer, with over 2500 third-party businesses selling to more than 1.8 million shoppers.

The Switch to Mobile Transactions

The rising popularity of eCommerce platforms is further supported by the fact that more and more Africans are relying on mobile money to make purchases. Two-thirds of the global mobile transactions are by users in Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, more than half of the 310 mobile money services in the world are located in Africa. Opay and Wave are some of the most popular mobile money platforms on the continent.

The increasing use of mobile internet across the African continent and rapid digitalization have made it easier for MSMEs to reach a wider variety of audiences. MatchCraft works with resellers and ad agencies to help MSMEs reach their full potential. Schedule a demo today!