Android app developers in Kenya can now heave a sigh of relief.
Kenya is now one of the countries listed on the Google Play Console as allowing developers to both register as developers for the platform and as merchants so as to be able to receive payments on the platform.
Before this latest change, Kenyans developing apps for the Android platform and distributing them through the Google Play Store have not been able to monetize since for that to happen, one needs to have a merchant account and Kenya wasn’t one of the countries where opening one was permitted.
As such, local app developers have had to use various workarounds in order to make money off their creations without directly charging for the apps and games they submit for listing on Google Play. That has been the case for my friend Eugene who develops games like Tumtafune and has been interested in getting a Google Play merchant account for long.
Now, all that is in the past.
Like developers in most countries, revenues made on Google Play will be paid out in US dollars. However, Kenyans can pay for apps and games on the Play Store using the shilling, something that has become even much easier since Safaricom partnered with Google to allow its subscribers to pay for apps using mobile money service M-PESA in February.
According to data from SimilarWeb, Kenyans spend their money on games like Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Square Enix’s Hitman Sniper and Microsoft’s Minecraft on the Google Play Store and not much on other apps. In fact, it is only popular apps like music player Poweramp, Nova Launcher Prime and privacy-focused messaging app Threema that manage to interrupt the flow of gaming apps in the top 20 paid apps in the country. Outliers like PocketCasts (the best way to listen to our podcast) and call recording app ACR, manage to make it to the top 50.
None of the apps and games that comprise the top 50 list are from Kenyan or Kenya-based developers, as far as I am able to ascertain.
So, are we about to see an explosion of local paid apps?