CEO Weekends: Technology Is Shifting The African Emerging Market

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Forbes says the Africa has become more vibrant compsared to long time markets like India, Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia and Russia. The  report on ‘Africa’s emerging market boom’, says that Africa is currently home to five of the world’s dozen fastest-growing economies.  While this is quickly cautioned for optimism, mostly due to underdeveloped infrastructure, there is a bright light over Africa, most especially from a communications perspective.

Frost & Sullivan, on the other hand says that the expansion of communications networks to remote locations within Africa has rapidly resulted in the need for alternative technologies to traditional fibre expansion.

Stephen Claassen from pan African ISP iWayAfrica, says this is true and that thanks to the hostile conditions, Africa will continue to see a boom in the use of satellite technology to span large distances.

The positive change come as a result of the advancements in wireless network and device technologies, coupled with the propagation of sophisticated mobile applications. 

Claassen says: “Lack of infrastructure such as proper roads, buildings, power and telecommunications are some of the issues hindering economic growth in Africa.  Satellite communications can speed up broadband roll-out and provide access in many developing economies, thereby making the difference between no access and a viable connection and inclusion in the digital society.” 

It is well documented that the evolution from basic feature phones to smartphones has been nothing short of phenomenal, robust mobile services have become a part of the fundamental way that people function in their day-to-day lives. New services such as free or low-cost streaming media services, social networking, and location-based services (LBS) are quickly becoming “essential” and a necessary component for every cellular carrier to support. 

The advent of the sub $100 smartphone is no longer a pipe dream as announced by the global semiconductor firm ARM, who indicated that within a few months they would launch an Android based smart phone at approx. $20. Undoubtedly this is a key driver to speed the growth of telecoms within the urban and rural markets.

In fact, Frost & Sullivan research indicates the average smartphone user is rapidly approaching 2 gigabytes (GB) of cellular data usage every month. As the “information era” continues to mature, never before has mobile innovation offered so much to so many in so short a time. But as with all technology advancements, new challenges inevitably emerge. More specifically, as consumers have become increasingly attached to their mobile devices, any interruption in service usage is unacceptable in today’s connected world.

Claassen says that the opportunity to address the challenge of low to no connectivity and subpar service is optimistic with carriers recognizing the benefits of adopting satellite backhaul technology to reach previously cost- or resource-prohibitive locations. 

“Not all companies will survive; the ones who are flexible, agile, focused on customer service and that provide essential value added service will triumph,” says Claassen.

He says iWayAfrica, the result of the amalgamation of MWEB Africa, Africa Online and AFSAT Communications is well positioned to take advantage of the growth on the African continent with its footprint and expansion plans.

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