Does InMobi's Exit from Africa Signal the Decline of Mobile Ads in the Region?

Kirsty Styles

InMobi has confirmed in a statement that it will be closing its offices in Africa, along with those in Russia.

The company said: “Like all successful and growing businesses, we routinely review our business to determine where we need to align investment based upon growth opportunities.

“Current global market conditions justify changes to the investment levels we make in certain countries in order to best structure the organisation to take advantage of the different opportunities around the world. We are currently meeting with all of the employees impacted by these changes to identify any potential redeployment options if at all possible.”

Elo Umeh, the CEO of Twinpine and co-chair of MMA West Africa, acknowledges that this creates chaos for some businesses, as this is one of the largest mobile advertisers in the world, it leaves people trying to figure out, what next?

“We believe in that chaos lies the opportunity. Entrepreneurs and ambitious businesses can continue to try and solve problems that mobile faces in Africa,” said the CEO, whose company is based out of Lagos and serves West, East and Southern Africa. He expects to see a significant increase in smartphone penetration over the next two years as the prices of handsets drop.

“We are currently innovating to ensure we play a key role when the market is ready. A key reason for this dependence on mobile is the fact that internet penetration in Africa has been largely driven by the mobile device. Over half of the population in Africa will access the internet for the first time from a mobile device.”

“Payments in general is very big, both potentially and in real terms. The regulatory approach varies across markets and we believe that will lead to a lot of fragmentation and difficulty. In Nigeria there are about 10 different payment providers with half that number doing very well from a sign up standpoint. But of course the challenge remains being able to drive transactions and ultimately deliver value.”

Twinpine says that it is Africa's only premium mobile ad network and they are working to bring publishers onto the mobile internet and offer advertisers premium traffic. They currently serve 300m monthly premium impressions.

“We have relationships in the mobile ecosystem in Africa. There is a of ahead of us but we think we can do it.”