Need for ‘Made for Africa” Apps to help consumers solve local problems

“There is a need for local application developers to develop Apps specifically for the African market that solve local problems and provide utility to the local market”

July 19, 2013

“There is a need for local application developers to develop Apps specifically for the African market that solve local problems and provide utility to the local market,” says OnePixel COO Nicholas Rixon. The rise of mobile technology has bought about a gold rush of mobile companies looking to create the next best App for consumers and businesses. The market is overrun with international applications, many of which do not add value in the African context. “The South Africa market, while producing some great Apps for enterprises sectors, is yet to produce a world dominating App concept. Local consumers are looking for Apps that help them in their daily activities to solve local problems and increase their effectiveness,” says Rixon.

The rise of mobile incubators and accelerator programs in Africa is leading to some great innovation in the mobile and application space, and could lead to the development of more ‘made for Africa’ Apps. These localised projects help entrepreneurs create successful mobile businesses that will look to tackle African problems using mobile devices. “Within the next 2 to 3 years we can expect to see some of these mobile businesses create real socio, political and economic impact across the continent,” says Rixon.

Mobile users are looking for Apps that provide instant gratification while on the move. When opening an App or looking at a website, consumers want to be able to find the information they need quickly and easily. Consumers are using technology to short cut the thinking process. Mobile Apps need to provide them with a powerful medium to discover and access information on the go, and display it in a way that maximises their actions 10 fold.

When developing a mobile application, there are two fundamentals that stand true in each project. The first is to know your target audience. “Understanding your target audience and finding out their pain points is the first vital step to making a successful mobile application. This information will dictate which platform the App is developed for, how you design the App, and what brand messages you send out when marketing the App,” says Rixon.

Secondly, the App needs to create an exceptional user experience. “New mobile applications are being developed almost hourly. The way to differentiate your App from the rest of the market is to develop a well thought out and designed mobile App that provides maximum utility with very little effort,” says Rixon.

There are many challenges that developers and mobile designers face during the development of an application. The costs involved; deciding which platform to use; deciding to make a native, hybrid or web-based App; how to distribute the App and what to charge for it are all decisions that developers must make early on in the project. However, the biggest problem faced by developers remains how to market the App once it has been built. “A solid offline and online marketing plan is required to get the best marketing results. Simply submitting an App to the App store is not enough. In order to be successful, developers need to get their App into the hands of tech writers and review sites that their target audience frequents. An effective marketing plan is critical to the success of a mobile App and is often overlooked in the planning process,” concludes Rixon.