Of Big Data And Conversations In The Hallway – #MWWA2013 Day 1 [RECAP]

The day was off to a rainy start and after spending about three hours in traffic getting to MWWA2013, all I could think was ‘this event better be worth’. And it was.

I got in at the middle of the second presentation for the day, when the Airtel representative spoke on whether mobile network operators should be taking more responsibilities in enhancing the impact of African creative industries. I’m sure we all agree that they should.

Alex Dadson, Senior Director Business Development West Africa for Qualcomm, and arguably my favourite presenter for the day, came up next to speak about the role Qualcomm is playing in ensuring that everybody who wants a smartphone can afford to get one. He emphasised the huge steps Tecno, in particular, is taking to make this a reality.

So, why develop applications for mobile? I’ll give you two reasons:

1. Most of today’s speakers (including representatives from Thomson Reuters, VConnect and biNu) practically swore on their companies’ names that local content is very important to them. They are actively looking for developers to provide content that the next generation can connect with. As Bankole Alao from Etisalat said, ‘We have looked at the app community today and we have seen that we should be empowering local app developers.’

2. Did you know that a (smart)phone user looks at his device an average of 150 times a day? I look at mine at least twice as many times daily – give us something worthwhile to do on our phones.

One major thing I took away from the presentations is that data plays a huge role in the mobile space – the numbers most of the speakers churned out attest to this fact. Like Peter from Airtel said, ‘data is the new crack.’ Everything boils down to how much data you have at your disposal, or as Deepankar Rustagi of VConnect said, ‘the role big data has to play in local businesses is that it gives you enough information to make [informed] decisions.’

For me, the best part of #MWWA2013 Day 1 happened outside the conference hall, in the hallways and at lunch where no one was reciting their practiced presentations. That’s where game changing discussions on the next frontiers for mobile web in West Africa took place. And as I type this, after another two hours in traffic, I still maintain that today’s event was worth the stress.


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