According to a recent report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), online advertising in Africa is set to grow by 27% from 2013 to 2018.
This is music to the ears of African bloggers and online content developers. For many years, with the exception of South Africa and a few countries in North Africa, people have blogged and provided online content for free - as a hobby or pastime. Blogging has not been an undertaking that one can carry out on a full-time basis. This is not to say that there haven't been any successful African bloggers, the trail blazers have made it through sheer determination and passion for what they do. But, the fact is, from the mid 1990s to about 2005, blogging has not been a profession that pays the bills and puts food on the table.
The reason for this dismal state of affairs has been the fact that big business in Africa has taken a while to move advertising dollars online. Blogs can only run successfully if they can attract advertisers. In the past, bloggers have relied on paid per click advertising streams such as Google's Adsense. Many were lucky to make even a few pennies a month. Google's average cost per click for most industries has been minuscule – ranging from $0.1 to $ 0.3 on average. To earn a modest income of $500 a month, a blogger had to attract between 1,700 and 5,000 clicks per month. Assuming an average click-through-rate of 2.5%, this would translate to between 68,000 and 200,000 page views per month. Quite a tall order when you consider that Africa has lagged behind the world in Internet access due to high costs and/or low quality. So, kudos to any blogger and online content developer who persevered during those tough formative years.
The turning point begun around 2005 when several marine fiber optic cables were commissioned. Undersea cables were heralded as the solution to high access costs and poor quality. By 2009, SEACOM and TEAMS along the East African coast were completed while EASSy, GLO1, WACS, and ACE were commissioned a year to two years later. These effectively connected Africa to the rest of the world. Many countries also put up massive terrestrial fiber networks to plug into the undersea cables.
The improvement in Internet access had an almost immediate impact in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Botswana and South Africa. The blogging profession has benefited immensely due to the double-digit growth of audiences every year. Further evidence that the tide has finally changed is the first-ever continent-wide blogger awards, The African Blogger Awards, which were launched in April 2014.
Advertisers have realized that audiences are spending more time online and it only makes logical sense to follow. As advertisers move online and reduce expenditure in traditional media, we can expect an explosion of online activity not just from bloggers but other content developers such mobile application developers. Millions in Africa will soon be able to earn a decent living doing what they love. Existing bloggers are already reaping the benefits. If you don't have a blog, this is the right time to get in on the action.