Tom Jackson, 10:06 am AFKI Original
Vancouver tech innovator Barrett Nash was drawn to Rwanda for its repuation as an easy place to start a tech business. Rwanda issues entrepreneur visas to foreigners. It’s a lab-like environment where innovations can be cooked up and then brought to other African markets, Nash said. “Many startups try to conquer a market before they’ve mastered a product. A startup needs to grow into markets like Lagos and Nairobi, but getting the product right first is more important. Rwanda has created a continent-leading platform for taking this first pivotal step.”
Tom Jackson, 11:20 am AFKI Original
President Paul Biya promised to increase technology jobs by investing in infrastructure, but Cameroon had been slow in its digital transformation. Stakeholders believe investors will be reluctant to back local companies there as a result of the internet shutdown. The government shutdown is expected to damage the many startups that were getting themselves investment ready in the country. By restricting internet access, “the government is sending the wrong messages to investors … they are undermining the future of its people.”
Tom Jackson, 12:09 pm AFKI Original
ShowMax’s European launch is proof that its hyper-local video-on-demand concept, pioneered in Africa, has wider application, says ShowMax Africa head Chris Savides. The cost of mobile data may be the biggest factor affecting the uptake of subscription video-on-demand on the continent. A number of services have tried and failed. It’s not an easy business because it’s not just about the technology, but also about understanding customer needs and content. “It may be that your niche isn’t the type of content but how you deliver that content in a way nobody else is doing,” Savides told AFKInsider.
Tom Jackson, 12:55 pm AFKI Original
U.S. firms are suspicious of non-homegrown products, whereas Germany had a more positive view of Africa, says a South African fintech manager. “No technology product, no matter how cool, sells itself,” she said. The CEO of an African blockchain startup hopes to start doing business in Hollywood and Bollywood. He encourages new startups expanding internationally to “develop the narrative around their product, unique value proposition, back story, and successes.”
Tom Jackson, 2:19 pm AFKI Original
Just 2% of retail transactions in Africa are electronic. Cash is still king and small transactions — less than $2 — have hindered the growth of mobile money outside of its Kenyan heartland. The value of M-Pesa and similar services is questionable for Africans living on just a few dollars a day. The average M-Pesa transaction value is closer to US$30. It’s unsustainable for agents to serve lower-income segments. They can’t afford to get down to the level of very small transactions, limiting the effect of mobile money on the bottom of the pyramid.
Tom Jackson, 12:35 pm AFKI Original
Despite the hype, profitability is still an unattainable ideal for Nigerian online shopping giants Konga and Jumia. Believers say e-commerce in Africa is “absolutely a long-term play.” They expect the short- and medium-term to be challenging. Players are still working on fast and easy payments and refunds, and trouble-free deliveries and returns. “It takes a long time for consumers to become comfortable shopping online, and it’s hard and expensive to accelerate this,” a stakeholder said. Investors aren’t all put off though. The potential prizes are too great.
Tom Jackson, 11:29 am AFKI Original
From digital educational materials for school children to the Uberisation of tutoring, tech is finding new ways of improving access to quality learning in Africa. But it isn’t happening fast enough for some people. Data is expensive, and many areas still have little or no connectivity. African governments have spent a lot of money to enable e-learning, but have not yet seen the results. Still, it’s an attractive sector to investors. Africa’s e-learning market doubled in size from 2011 to 2016.
Tom Jackson, 7:55 am AFKI Original
As tech becomes more widespread in Africa, democratic processes will become more accessible. Internet and mobile technologies can reach remote areas and give voice to many. Rashaad Alli is a manager at South African nonprofit People’s Assembly, which supports websites that make parliamentary information more accessible to ordinary people. “Access to information is a great enabler to effect social change and deepen democracy,” Alli said. “Tech tools help increase transparency, expose corruption, strengthen democracy and hold governments to account.”
Tom Jackson, 10:02 am AFKI Original
Africa is outsourcing great tech jobs to skilled workers on other continents. There are tens of thousands of unfilled software jobs on a continent plagued by unemployment, especially among its digitally savvy youth. Digital skills training is vital to Africa’s future, says the co-founder of CodeX, one of many companies in Africa trying to address the shorfall. Many of the continent’s challenges can be solved with tech solutions, but ultimately they must be solved by the people who understand the problems intimately – Africans themselves. Help is on the way. Here are some of the companies offering skills training in Africa.
Tom Jackson, 9:51 am AFKI Original
In 2017, expect more African reverse innovations that address local challenges and have global applications. Expect more drones. More Africans connected to the internet. Expect the calls for faster, cheaper internet to grow louder in 2017. Four key players in the African tech space talked to AFKInsider about what they know for sure and what they’re looking forward to in 2017: BRCK co-founder Erik Hersman, project Isizwe founder Alan Knott-Craig, Jumia co-CEO Jeremy Hodara and Ovum analyst Danson Njue.