Africa, with its 700 million mobile subscribers, is now positioned as the second largest mobile market in the world. Whether it’s smartphones or basic phones, app creation follows the same growth curve: SMS services to get the latest football results, health or mobile payment solutions, etc. The fact remains that although there are many initiatives, it is difficult to find funds. As for the marketing of these new modules, this phase is even less obvious. How is Africa positioned in the “Online applications and services” sector and what are the prospects for the African continent?
The development of the application market requires that they be targeted
Founded in 2009, ForgetMeNotAfrica has specialized in creating app development competitions in Kenya and Zimbabwe. These competitions aim to allow successful candidates to market an application that meets local needs while using new technologies. This initiative is intended to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, job creation and the launch of profitable local apps.
Respond to local needs
In order for users to truly care about new applications, it is essential that they can meet a daily need. Each of the competitions organized by ForgetMeNotAfrica allows developers to develop applications for base phones (SMS, USSD) or smartphones, building on the ecosystem of ForgetMeNotAfrica and while benefiting from access to tutorials , test platforms, etc. The winner obtains the capital necessary for the development of the application or service, a distribution to the customers of the partner operator as well as a participation in the profits generated.
The applications to be developed must be in line with social business. Indeed, it is a question of putting in place solutions responding to local issues and likely to generate income. Even populations living in remote areas use SMS to stay in touch with those around them. Free applications using this channel provide better access to healthcare, education, information and mobility.
What factors can promote the development of online applications and services?
In Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria or Ghana, a significant number of startups have appeared. They operate in the agricultural sector, as well as in commerce, education and renewable energies.
Some applications such as the Ushahidi Alert Platform are already adopted by millions of people. Some Internet groups are experiencing rapid development, such as Africa Internet Group (AIG) which manages, among others, the Jumia, Carmudi, Kaymu sites.
Places fostering innovation, incubators or co-working spaces are emerging such as Hub Accra in Ghana.
“Hackatons”, funded by different actor profiles (foundations, multinationals, institutions …) are multiplying to attract new talents and give birth to ideas for applications and online services.
In addition, communities of “makers” are initiating the creation of “fablab”, manufacturing laboratories like the Woelab community in Togo.
The importance of developing online applications and services
Whether it is agriculture, commerce, IT, education or health, many initiatives are flourishing across the African continent
The Obami digital learning and communication platform, launched by Barbara Mallinson from Africa, connects teachers, students and parents with the goal of improving the educational situation in the country. This platform works like a social network.
In terms of agriculture, Senegal is positioned as a forerunner with the creation of M-Louma, an online agricultural exchange.
The development of online applications allows creators to meet current needs while anticipating the future needs of subsequent generations: access to health care, access to education, etc.
These online applications and services are therefore instruments that will allow Africa to develop.
Online applications and services as instruments of inclusive growth
It is undeniable that the launch of online applications and services are helping to boost the development of the African continent. Many African entrepreneurs provide local solutions to local problems. However, some initiatives are aimed at international scope: this is called “Globalization” which consists of developing local solutions that can be used outside the national market (and especially by countries sharing identical difficulties).
This reality particularly concerns money transfer applications in companies in which few people have a traditional bank account, but have several mobile phones. Today’s reflection must focus on how online applications and services can contribute to the inclusive and sustainable growth of the African continent.
Governments and economic actors must implement strategies to promote online services and applications through the emergence of the digital economy.
The multidimensional nature of technological innovations transforms them into an essential vector of growth, productivity and competitiveness in several sectors such as agriculture, finance, consumption of goods and services, etc. To achieve this, resources must be mobilized.