The mobile scenario in Africa,
today. 550+ million mobile subscribers (1 in 3 Africans have a mobile phone) East Africa has 50+ million mobile subscribers (50% penetration). 2.5G and 3G are becoming ubiquitous on the continent. Mobile money is becoming de facto. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is dropping. Legislation is coming into place.
The mobile in Africa is
more than a phone. SMS/Texting. The Internet (in all its forms) Financial Services (i.e. bank and insurance). Entertainment (i.e radio, tv, camera) Business. Health information Ultimately, a lifestyle enabler across the board!
The case for mobile apps
in East Africa. A market of over 50 million mobile subscribers. Proliferation of mobile data services. Mobile money enables monetization for mobile apps. Skillbase is growing as app developers and initiatives take root. Innovative mobile apps like M-Pesa show potential for success. Global trends give diriection.
What is happening on the
ground? Innovation hubs are being set-up. Academic institutions are partnering with business for incubators. M-commerce start-ups are proliferating. Mobile money is commonplace and augmented. Government services are going “M”. Learning is going mobile. Ultimately, change is happening.
Mobile App Channels. SMS
(Communications and Applications). SIM card-based (USSD and IVR). Mobile Web (Using 2G and 3G to access apps via web) Software Platforms (i.e. Java ME, Android, iOS, Symbian, etc)
Where are we today with
mobile apps? A market of over 50 million mobile subscribers in East Africa. Proliferation of mobile data services. Mobile money enables monetization for mobile apps. Skillbase is growing as app developers and initiatives take root. Innovative mobile apps like M-Pesa and VAS show potential for success. Global trends point to direction.
What are the numbers telling
us? Nokia devices lead in Africa giving Symbian and Java ME leadership, for now. The primary devices in Africa are feature phones but smartphones are becoming commonplace. Android, Blackberry and Apple will continue to grow. The question therefore is where should mobile apps in Africa be focussed?
Mobile Apps: M-Government. Realization
of M-Government for G2G, G2B and G2C services. Global competitiveness in knowledge and business process outsourcing for economic growth. Creation of new jobs and industries, as well as improved national productivity in existing industries. Enhanced education via M-Learning.
Mobile Apps: M-Business. World-class
and low-cost infrastructure for business applications and content. Improved access to global markets. Near-free and real-time global communications due to convergence. Improved workforce productivity and collaboration with strategic partners. Emergence new/enhanced business models.
Mobile Apps: M-Citizens. Access
to mobile multimedia entertainment, anywhere and anytime. Improved mobile social networking, collaboration and communication. Will work or school from home, or anywhere for that matter via mobile. Improved access to m- services such as m-commerce and m-government.
Mobile Apps: M-Infrastructure. Affordable
and accessible high speed mobile Internet, continent-wide and in rural Africa. Deployment of next generation mobile Internet infrastructure (i.e. 4G) especially in the “last mile”. Innovation in Africa to take advantage of concepts like m-commerce, converged media, social media, m- learning, etc.
Mobile Apps: M-content There
is very limited local m-content in Africa – this is going to a massive opportunity, and a challenge! Lots of local content already exists, but its not mobile. It has to be digitized, edited, packaged and delivered. Local content created just for mobile channels will also be key. Content > Interest > Growth > Value!
Mobile Apps: M-Inclusion. Need
for "m-literacy” in Government, Business and Citizenry. Create m-inclusion programs for the whole country, especially in rural Africa where connectivity is limited. Confidence and trust needed for the skillful use of mobile apps to play, learn, socialize and work. A fundamental understanding of the social-economic benefits
Mobile Apps: M-Partnerships. Government
and Business must work together to realize the full potential of mobile apps. Business has to drive innovation and delivery. Government needs to create the enabling environment. Citizens must be able to fully participate in the mobile apps economy with both the Government and Business.
Key factors for Mobile Apps
Success. Availability – Accessible and useful? Context – Interesting and relevant? Quality – High standards? Cost – Affordable for all? Model – Ad supported? subscription? freemium? sell?
In Concluding. Mobile money
shows that Africa can lead in mobile apps when given the chance. Mobile apps are just getting off the ground in Africa but ultimately have to meld communication and social lifestyle elements to succeed. The who, why, what and when matter. Ultimately, value is realized when users engage with mobile apps.