Our Blog

The official Motribe blog, written by the founders

December 1

There has been a fair bit of talk recently about the emerging markets (and in some cases Africa specifically) being the last billion.

I’m not entirely comfortable with that turn of phrase. In fact I’m never particularly fond of any sweeping generalised label.

This label particularly bothers me because I think that it stems from a misunderstood perspective. If you are in the developed world and have been using a desktop PC since you were born then the emerging markets look like the final frontier. The emerging markets can look like a world waiting to be registered and signed up as one of your users on the latest, greatest desktop web platform or service. Or not.

From my perspective Africa and the emerging markets should actually be labeled the mobile billion (or even the first billion). We’re the first billion to have skipped the desktop revolution and moved right along to the mobile one. We’re the billion who are mobile-first and have been since the start. We’re the mobile billion.

For years people have been saying that mobile is the next big thing, in Africa it’s been the only thing. This gives a good idea of what the label should be, not the other way around.

I’d like to suggest that we stop labeling those who are untapped on desktop as the last billion. We should be calling the brands, marketers and so-called smart people who have only noticed Africa (and the mobile medium) until now as the slow billion.