WCACom 2012: Hey Developer! You Just Overlooked Another Market in Africa

Editor’s Note: This is our final piece from the just concluded WCACom 2012. We already share a first story and photos from the event,  and thanks to @Ajibz who was a member of a panel at the conference. Here’s a lesson he took away from the conference – Monetize Africa!

Nigeria is one of the largest markets in Africa; it is also one of the toughest markets to excel in. Seeing how things are done in places where the system works really great. The data connectivity says 3G and truly is 3G, telcos subsidize smart phone purchases and also partner with local players to enable them locally. It is hard to believe that all this is happening inside of Africa.

Africa, Two Economies, Two Markets

There are two sides to Africa, the important two sides here is the Francophone and Anglophone. It was a little weird not having English be the main language of discourse, but it opened my ears to an opportunity – the French connection.

We are creating products in English and it serves a huge audience, however there is an equally capable audience and also more enabled and developed that will benefit from what we are creating, the caveat being that it has to be in their native language. There still is the monetization question. It doesn’t make business sense to bring on thousands more users who speak another language without a plan to monetize those users. All roads still lead back to the monetization question.

Where is all the money going?

This issue was touched on by a panel of developers at the recently concluded WCACom in Dakar, Senegal. It culminated in the developers asking for open API’s for billing and better revenue share from telecoms operators. The telcos wanted recognition for the infrastructure and regulatory constraints they have overcome to even make thinking about creating an internet startup possible, but we say this is not enough.

A salient point was raised by Alassane Deme of Nelam Services that the revenue generated by telcos in Africa rarely stays in the country it was generated in, they are shipped abroad to foreign investors with little left for the country they were “mined” from.

We are asking telcos to further the local ecosystem by opening up a new revenue stream opportunity through mobile applications. OEM’s found a recurring revenue stream with apps and MNO’s have been sidelined in this area, they are reluctant to partner and there are a vast number of MNO’s across multiple countries as opposed to just one Nokia, Apple or Microsoft worldwide, this all adds to the billing problem.

We are reaching out to telcos to support the local ecosystem by opening up their billing to app developers; it will create even higher revenues in the long haul. By easing the billing process and increasing the revenue share, the number of apps will dramatically increase, it will make the internet homier for Africans who are the people that will eventually pay for those services.

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