VENTURES AFRCA –  InMobi closes its Africa-based operations due to a rejection of mobile advertising on the continent, despite growing mobile penetration and reliance.

The mobile-advertising network confirmed that offices in Kenya and South Africa will be shut down, as the company relocates its operations to either its Dubai or London based offices.

Explaining the decision to shut African operations despite the rise in mobile use on the continent, 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.”

InMobi – launched in India in 2007 – currently boasts approximately 578 million customers in 165 countries world-wide.  In 2011, the company recruited one of the most powerful women in African tech, Isis Nyong’o of Google’s business development team for Sub-Saharan Africa, to head up the marketing network’s African operations.  Only a year later, the company is now closing up shop on the continent, as it looks to improve investment efficiencies.

The move is surprising in terms of growth in mobile and internet penetration and use on the continent.

The Communications Commission of Kenya has recorded 75.4 percent mobile penetration in Kenya as at June this year, citing 29.7 million mobile users in the East African country.  The country also has 14.03 million internet users, with penetration having risen to 35.5 percent of the population – up from 22 percent only a year ago, indicating rapid levels of growth.

The South African government is also pushing for increases in mobile and internet penetration, with 100 percent internet coverage being named as one of the government’s Vision 2020 targets.

It is thus unusual that the company has identified African operations as lacking growth opportunities, with market conditions apparently justifying a retreat from the continent and a move to different global opportunities.

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