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Yes Africa’s got the potential for an app boom, but it needs to get it right

The mobile application space is set to boom across Africa, as enterprises and developers lead the world in bringing to market unique mobile applications suited to a developing market. Potential though, doesn’t guarantee success.

There are several reasons for Africa’s potential — crucially, the cliché that Africa is a mobile continent still holds true. Mobile devices are becoming smarter, faster and more affordable, smartphone adoption is growing by around 15% year on year across the continent, and mobile bandwidth has become better and more affordable. In addition, mobile applications are particularly relevant to the African context, where a young, increasingly tech-savvy and often geographically dispersed population is fast seeing the advantages of self-service and mobile business.

Advanced, user-friendly mobile apps will be the next customer service excellence differentiator. To maintain a competitive advantage, enterprises will increasingly roll out mobile consumer apps to maintain their competitive lead, and to deliver services. Many operators will see this as a new way of doing business.

Why? For one thing, mobile apps enhance the customer experience. The old USSD-based self-service options are not particularly user-friendly, especially for less tech-savvy consumers. Dialing *123#456# may have sufficed when there was no other alternative, but now people can simply press an icon or a menu button on a smartphone to interact with enterprises.

Getting it right

To be effective, mobile apps need to begin with meeting customer needs, and they must be simple and easy to use. They also need to address enterprise pain points — for example, the most common contact centre queries can be migrated to a self-service smartphone app, so improving customer experience and easing the contact centre workload.

They also need to deliver concise, personalised and easy to navigate information to the end-user, supplying all the relevant information at a glance, with the ability to drill down, slice or dice if needed. In the enterprise application space, we see that once mobile workers have access to effective apps, they seldom revert to their laptops to access Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

Achieving this requires a great deal of preparatory work, to identify what end users need, what the business goals are for the app, and what the current enterprise pain points are, which could be addressed with a customised mobile app.

Leading the world

Africa is traditionally innovative, and because mobile apps are so relevant to the African context, with a low barrier to entry for app developers, we envisage massive growth in the app development space across the continent.

An innovative youngster with little more than internet access and aptitude can learn to develop apps, and bring to market new solutions tailored to meet African needs. It requires a niche skill set, but mobile application development will become the order of the day as demand increases. There is scope for app development across numerous areas — for example, banking, healthcare and education. And apps developed for the African context may also be relevant to other developing regions of the world, meaning there is huge potential for growth in this sector.

  • Enterprise companies are being faced with a backlog of daily demands for mobile access to corporate systems. But mobile app development is a difficult and costly proposition with complex programming tools, native requirements, lengthy development cycles and a shortage of trained mobile app programmers. The mobile app development challenge is clear, the app backlog can only be addressed effectively if organizations can leverage their existing development teams to create mobile apps.Read more here http://bit.ly/XCLuhF

  • Great article, Ayanda. For a reality check and lots of up-to-date statistics on what’s actually happening in the most mobile-connected African countries, please check out my slidedeck from recent research I did on Mobile Opportunities in Africa – Engaging the next Billion – http://www.m-trends.org/2013/02/mobile-opportunities-in-africa-engaging-the-next-billion.html [m-trends.org] The deck is an in-depth analysis of African mobile market penetration in each country. Included are some examples of innovative local entrepreneurs, creating new opportunities with mobile across the continent. A detailed explanation of the slides was recently published on the iHub blog here – http://www.ihub.co.ke/blog/2013/02/mobile-opportunities-in-africa-engaging-with-the-next-billion/ [ihub.co.ke]

  • sean

    For any developer, organization, or enterprise looking to create easy and free mobile apps they should first check out http://www.appsbar.com to see if their app building machine could have use to them. I’ve used appsbar for my business and would recommend it to anyone looking to expand, promote, and advertise through mobile apps

  • Pingback: OA News: March 8-17, 2013 – oAfrica()

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