Africa needs a digitalization strategy to compete in the global economy
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, August 27, 2019 – African countries must act quickly and decisively to become leaders on the global economic stage. Digitalization is providing the continent with the opportunity to accelerate growth and rapidly expand struggling economies – but it’s a small window and decision-makers must get a strategy in place now in order to succeed.
Siemens in conjunction with Frost & Sullivan, have put together a comprehensive research project outlining the current state of key industries across the continent and identifying challenges and opportunities.
The study, named ‘The dawn of digitalization and its impact on Africa’, considers growth predictions and where the adoption of smart technology would be most beneficial in expanding industries to drive sustainable growth. For the purpose of this study, focus was placed on four key sectors: Water, Manufacturing, Mining and Minerals, and Food and Beverage.
Some of the key findings in the report are:
- The adoption of digital technologies, innovation as well as a range of digital customer offerings are expected to remain varied across industries, markets and geographies. The extent and impact of digital technologies is also expected to vary, favouring businesses and industries that seek relevance and increasing contribution in international markets in addition to existing domestic markets.
- While advanced analytics and digitalization are witnessing growing adoption across certain industry sectors, such as the automotive sector, there is a real opportunity for adoption of these across industry sectors such as the mining and food & beverage industry which are significant contributors to major African economies.
- Manufacturing, while the most mature in its transformation and adoption of digital technologies in Africa, remains a marginal player struggling to make a bigger impact on country GDPs. The question governments need to ask themselves is how they align a ‘here-and-now’ emphasis on job creation with the necessary focus on digitalization. This will enable Africa to create a niche within the global economy. If we fail to pro-actively select our place within the global manufacturing industry, we run the risk of continuing on this path of non-industrialization.
- In the water industry, expenditure in water infrastructure has been low when compared to the global average. Inadequate investment in infrastructure coupled with poor water utility management has resulted in a greater need for development of the water sector.
- In the mining industry which has been witnessing subdued investment, rising cost pressures and increasing labour issues, a combination of mechanization, efficient extraction of resources and better use of data can make it easier for mine operators to cut costs and create a leaner and more efficient mining operation. As such, the successful incorporation of technology will be possible through collaborative efforts of technology providers, industry, research institutes and organizations that work for uplifting the mining industry.
- A stable supply of electricity is critical for digitalization to flourish. By providing high levels of infrastructure and power supply, Africa will be able to attract the necessary investment across various industry sectors.
The urban population in Africa is expected to grow to 56% in 2050, from 35% in 2010. This rapid urbanization will require robust infrastructure to ensure these expanding cities are hubs of growth and commerce, and not still trying to catch up with basic necessities.
According to Ralf Leinen, Senior Vice President Digital Industries for Southern and Eastern Africa, “For the first time in history we have an incredible opportunity to use smart technology to transform entire economies at an unprecedented rate. Africa needs to get efficient strategies in place now in order to succeed.”
In the wake of changing business dynamics, rapidly evolving technology and increasing competition, collaborative efforts between governments, industry, businesses (local and international), labour and academia is vital for creating an environment that is conducive to developing sustainability of local businesses, encourages technology upskilling, innovation, knowledge sharing and execution.
The findings from the study are just a starting point. Siemens hopes it will begin a dialogue and provide a framework to some of the unique opportunities that exist.
5 Important Steps of Launching a New Tech Product (Part 2)
Article by Darlyn Okojoie, Tech entrepreneur (Image: iStock)
As a continuation to part 1 of the article “5 Important Steps of Launching a New Tech Product,” we will look into the final steps that are crucial to launching a new tech product.
As noted in part 1, knowing how to create a successful product launch strategy from development to launch, promotion, and delivery to users is as important as the tech idea itself. The reason for this is that we have seen great ideas fail due to poor market entry strategies. Hence, the need to share some steps for launching a new tech product to assist founders, creators, and developers in increasing the chances of their product’s market success.
Here are the final 5 crucial steps in launching a new tech product that we have tested with Memo.Africa and recommend that every founder should consider to increase their chances of success:
1). Build anticipation for your product by pre-marketing
Creating teasers, disclosing some features of the product bit by bit, and creating strategic product awareness to build anticipation for the product before launching it cannot be overemphasized. When you build anticipation among your audience by promoting the product before launching it, it helps to create more dominant brand awareness in the market and ultimately drives sales for the new product when it eventually hit the market.
Building anticipation includes; creating a landing page, an email campaign for signups, reaching out to a journalist, bloggers and industry influencers, engaging in PR and advertising etc.
2). Build a solid supply chain or seamless distribution channel
Aside from taking inventory of your products and ensuring you have enough to meet demand when you eventually launch them, you must also ensure you establish a manageable supply chain or distribution channel for this product. Work closely with your vendors and distributors, and ask them what their maximum capacity is for how many units they can provide at one time. This initial response from customers will determine how to scale production if your product launch yields more demand than supply.
3). Network and share your product with your target audience
Now that you are getting closer to the launch date, ensure you stick to it to avoid having to inform the media, customers, vendors, or anyone involved, of any changes. Use every opportunity you have, both online and offline, to talk about your product. Promote the new product with all the available media tools and encourage your contacts to spread the news.
Go all out at this, sell your brand, and make sure you get the public’s attention on every platform available. For example, set a countdown on social media to herald the eventual launch of your new tech product.
4). Reach out to the press post-launch
Take your audience on a journey from inception to production to commerce using the media. People love to hear the origin story of a great product, especially if it has an interesting story, and you deploy the media both from a personal platform and through paid media.
Concerning the paid media outfits, once you have launched your product, and good reviews and feedback start rolling in, reach out to the various media outlets that covered your story pre-launch and ask them to share an update.
From the personal brand point, use your platform to post your story on any of our social media channels. Your audience wants to hear that inspiring product story of yours. This help to create a connection between your product and your customers.
5). Consider and prepare for public feedback and reviews post-launch
After the launch, brace yourself for customer reviews. No matter how successfully you have introduced your product to the world, public perception of your brand can be brutal if your organization delivered below expectations.
In the case of a negative review, be empathetic and always respond politely and provide a short-term solution to address the consumer’s immediate concerns and a long-term solution to ensure future customers won’t encounter the same issues. You command more respect for your brand when you respond as soon as possible to any question raised by the target audience.
5 Important Steps of Launching a New Tech Product (Part 1)
Tech Entrepreneur & Co-Founder/COO Memo Africa, Darlyn Okojie
Knowing how to create a successful product launch strategy from development to launch, promotion, and delivery to users is as important as the tech idea itself. The reason for this is that we have seen great ideas fail due to poor market entry strategies. In fact, most consumer tech products that are launched have a higher chance of failing; according to publicity.com statistics, 95% of the 30,000 consumer products that are launched annually fail. This is a common occurrence among small businesses attempting to launch a product.
Hence, the need to share some steps for launching a new tech product to assist founders, creators, and developers in increasing the chances of their product’s market success and not continuing to second-guess whether the product will survive the next day.
Here are 5 crucial steps in launching a new tech product that we have tested with Memo.Africa, and recommend that every creator should consider to increase their chances of success:
1). Does Your Tech Product Meet the Users’ Needs?
The first question behind every founder’s mind should be why would someone buy your product? If you can provide a good answer to this question, you have solved a significant part of the question of meeting the users’ needs. Figure out how your product could solve a problem, satisfy a desire or improve someone’s quality of life. You can get answers to this question by conducting a basic market survey. Through this survey, you will be able to understand how your customers will justify buying your product, and that is how you can begin a promotion strategy. A good product launch plan should always put consumers’ needs first and satisfy them in the best way possible.
2). Know Your Competition
Knowing your competition is a crucial aspect of any product development, especially those that are leading in your industry. What is it about the product that makes users prefer them over others? What is their branding like? What makes them unique, what is their price? And compare this with what you are offering. Leverage these insights to build your product. Ask your team, what will set your product apart from the other product in the same category. Why should consumers choose your product over the competition? Identify your product’s unique advantages and leverage them to sell your brand.
3). Make a Prototype and Test it
This is one of the most critical aspects of any new tech product. If you ignore testing, your product outcome might end up failing grossly. To avoid the risk of investing in a product that is overly flawed before it hits the market, create a prototype and get beta testers to try it so they can offer feedback on how to improve it, if necessary. Don’t wait for customer reviews after launch to improve your product, it can be disastrous to the product and your brand, scaring away partners and investors. No matter how excited you are about your product, always test before launching.
4). Reconfigure Your Product
This is a follow-up to the above point. Once you have a prototype and start testing your product and gaining feedback from testers, friends, family, and colleagues, to correct the defects; do not hesitate to adjust where necessary. Little changes here and there can make a big difference in your product’s quality. Getting somehow outside the team to vet the product can lead to discovering new features that should be added or those that should be removed, which eventually makes the product better. You may not eventually end up with a perfect product, but you will arrive at a product that excites your customers and that you are proud of.
5). Identify Your Revenue Model and Run the Numbers
It is not enough to have a fantastic idea or product; you must be able to identify its primary revenue stream. Some tech ideas are great but they do not have market value.
Also, it’s wise to establish your profit margins as one of your product launch phases. Compare similar products’ performance in the market and, as much as possible, determine the likely number of products sold, total revenue generated, break-even sales volume, and net profit earned.
In the area of marketing the product, you need to decide what to establish as a reasonable conversion rate for any of your marketing channels e.g., website and then figure out how much traffic you would need to reach that goal. You need every bit of this knowledge to make informed decisions, and avoid winging any aspect of it.
I hope you have learned a thing or two from this piece. Kindly go to Part 2 of this article to complete the basic steps to a successful product launch.
Written by: Darlyn Okojie, Co-Founder & COO, Memo Africa
Waxed: Revolutionising Africa’s Transport Industry
Waxd Group CEO, Anthony Stewart (Image & Article: Waxd)
An estimated 70% of Africa’s urban population live in informal settlement housing. They rely on privately-owned minibus taxis and public bus transport systems to travel to work, send their children to school, and live out their day-to-day lives. The need for digital payment and cashless fare collection solutions – that provide a secure and seamless way for people to access the routes they use every single day – is critical.
Digital payment systems for the transport industry will remove the need for physical tickets and cash payments, and speed up transactions and transport times. With public transport spending accounting for up to 10% of consumer income in Africa, the implications for the transport industry are vast. South Africa alone has over 200,000 minibus taxis transporting more than 15 million commuters daily.
The Waxd story started when Waxd patented a method for processing app payments through EFT rails, cutting merchant fees from 2-3.5% to 0.4%. Although the idea was good, it needed the co-operation of the banks. This was not very forthcoming as the solution would cost the banks in transaction revenues. After months of frustration, Waxd decided to look at areas of innovation where the banks had failed.
Waxd provides an accessible payment solution that enables public transport drivers to accept different payment methods from passengers, including biometric and prepaid cards which can be recharged by commuters to pay for their rides. Transport operators, owners and drivers can also track their revenue in real-time and manage their fleet with improved efficiency and transparency.
An informal, unregulated transport industry leads to many challenges being faced by all stakeholders. A digital payment system leads to a simpler, safer payment solution for all – from commuters and drivers, to owners and government.
The Africa transport revolution is happening at a rapid rate, and Waxd is at the forefront of developments – committed to providing technologically-advanced payment solutions and to enabling financial inclusion for everyone.
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