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From payment solutions like M-pesa, SnapScan and FlickPay to unique entertainment solutions like Bozza and medical solutions like the Mobile Triage App, mobile technology presents unique opportunities for Africa’s startups.
One such opportunity is the mobile advertising space, which is why African-focused digital media company Terragon Group recently launched its latest unique mobile offering at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona. In a Q&A with Terragon’s Group CEO Elo Umeh, he explained why Africa is such a peculiar market and why it’s important to look for new monetisation channels.
“[Arica] has huge opportunities as well as unique challenges. However, the continent has set itself apart for key innovations,” Umeh pointed out. Products like M-pesa have managed to find the sweet spot where strong innovation meets the exact needs of the market. “Increasingly, African Techpreneuers need to copy from the success of M-pesa and build strong technology across different segments of the local ecosystem for optimum market satisfaction.”
He argued that because Africa is considered a mobile-first continent, opportunities presented by mobile has created a new crop of digital entrepreneurs who are daily coming up with ideas to address the issues prevalent in Africa.
“Africa is a unique market and would leverage globally available technologies in ways it has never been used in the developed countries to solve local African problems,” he explained.
According to the GSMA, the total number of mobile connections in Sub-Saharan Africa stood at 608 million in June 2014, predicted to rise to 975 million by 2020.
“The networks have been built,” he said. “Mobile operators are now seeking to unlock the value in non-voice products which is driven by strong value added services.” He explained that new channels for monetisation is opening up which include mobile advertising, data monetisation and enterprise solutions.
So far we’ve seen more and more apps trying to tackle complicated public transport infrastructures like GoMetro and WIMT which recently relaunched. Similarly, mobile technology is being used to reach gaps in education like Sterio.me.
“All these point to the fact that mobile will increasingly start to play a more dynamic role in the life of the average African,” Umeh said. “The growth in mobile penetration in Africa has seen organisations tapping into the boom to maximise the revenue potential of the mobile medium.”
Looking to reach the millions of mobile devices that are connected but don’t have internet access, Terragon Group has recently launched the “first African-focused mobile operator advertising technology called Adrenaline. The product allows advertisers to buy inventory and access to reach mobile users on organically generated channels which sit on non-internet based platforms on mobile devices.
Africa still has a high concentration of feature phone users who are prepaid customers. “With our Adrenaline solution, adverts can reach both users of feature phones and smart phones and as you may be aware,” said Umeh. “This means we also focus on non-internet channels predominant to Africa including USSD based balance enquiry, Call-Me-Back messages, End of Call Notification, among others.”
Umeh said that, over the next few years, we should see innovation around big data and analytics, where highly granular data-sets owned by banks, mobile ad networks and social media platforms will be crunched and used to get actionable insights.
He further added that we should see a rise of the mobile app economy suited to Africa:
There are available apps at the moment that are catching on, but with the proliferation of cheaper smartphones and mobile internet data on the rise. Africa is on its way to joining the very advanced countries where there will be an app for everything.