A recent report entitled Mobile Trends 2020 Africa compiled by experts in various industries including the Shuttleworth Foundation, health bodies and IT organisations has been made available to the local branch of The Starcom MediaVest Group’s (SMG’s) internationally-aligned Human Experience Centre (HEC).
Head of human experience for SMG and ZenithOptimedia South Africa Eve Pennington says, “The report provides an invaluable summary of predictions and reveals what an enormous role mobile is going to play in shaping the fabric and growth of the African continent.”
The key findings of the study include:
· The African market will see a flood of much cheaper, possibly Chinese-produced smartphones that are more practical in their application. This will enable access to information and social networks which may have an impact on how governments run countries and whether they’re democratised or not.
· Information will be far more transparent and will lead to the formulation of opinions ‘en masse’. This has already taken place with epochs such as the ‘Egyptian Spring’ uprising in 2011, which was largely driven by social media platforms such as Twitter.
· Smartphones will replace the need for physical banks, given that mobile makes banking such a user-friendly process.
· Access to mobile also has huge implications in terms of social upliftment given that people will have greater access to online advice and educational content and apps.
· Africa is rapidly becoming a hub of innovation that is giving rise to company start ups and has seen the launch of a raft of mobile innovations that can be exported to the rest of the world. This allows for Africa-specific problem solving, applications and content being developed. This is being supported by what is happening on television stations which in turn has given rise to huge business opportunities with regards to content.
· Already a number of Africa’s mobile internet and technology stores have access to a far greater repertoire of products than is available in South Africa.
Pennington says hers outtake from a South African perspective is that looking at technology in the world today and specifically how it’s developing in African countries, it’s very clear that mobile is going to lead the change in Africa and is going to play a vital role in developing economies acting as the social glue for these countries.
“Where technology was always the remit of the wealthy; mobile technology has democratised technology. It allows people to connect with one another across geographical borders and facilitates like minded people congregating and sharing experiences.
“Mobile acts as the social glue for a society from a personal point of view and from a broader social development standpoint, enabling the biggest social needs in countries such as education and health,” says Pennington.
She cites the fact that Africa has historically been a very difficult market to tap into because of its vast geographical spread and the fact that a lot of the population is based in rural areas. This has also led to a scarcity of research or knowledge in terms of how Africans think and feel about certain issues.
“Technology is allowing market researchers to gather a much broader base of insight and in turn, this has made communities far more powerful, given that they’re now more accessible through the use of mobile devices.”
She adds that like minded people coming together is suddenly offering brands a portal into consumers’ lives, allowing them a richer understanding of their needs and wants and therefore connecting with them more effectively.