Fast development of Africa and its integration into the world economy is clearly observed nowadays. More and more investment goes into not yet saturated African market each year allowing African countries to gradually catch up with fast developing economies such as China, Singapore and South Korea. The crucial areas, which require innovative approach of development, include education and healthcare.
Steady development of tablets in Africa
Tablets has already proved its success in Western economies, when, after Apple iPad release in 2010, the whole tablet market was growing over 100% per year. After the market had been highly saturated by the end of 2013, growth rates dropped significantly to 30% per year in advanced countries, while being 145% in developing economies.
However, it does not mean the forthcoming end of tablet industry, but it is rather a gradual change in geographical concentration of the market. Developing economies such as Africa, with lots of space for investment, unsatisfied demand and a lack of technological application, offer great opportunities for entrepreneurs. As a result, there are a lot of initiatives of applying technology into the most vital areas of African countries. For example, the first touch-screen tablet was developed in Africa in September 2011 by Verona Mankou from Congo followed by Arthur Zang, who developed the first tablet for medical use, called Cardiopad, in 2013.
Popularity of tablets in education arose with appearance of Qelasy tablet, developed by Ivorian IT expert Thierry N’Doufou. It was one of the first well designed devices in Africa, which allow children and adults getting an access to 1,000 apps and connecting the website, where teachers could upload information for students and their parents.
While education is being one of the most profitable investments in the long-term, a lot of foreign companies are entering African market with lots of ideas to improve this area by means of modern technology, actively used by Western economies, but not yet widespread in African developing countries.
Thus, JX Paulin, a co-founder and owner of a China-based company providing educative tablets in Africa, MySimax Company, regard computerization of African education is one of the main prerequisites to its success. The company offers tablets as a mean of improved high quality education.
Paulin states: “African students must be able to share information and to access valuable content easily. They should read about their history as it really occurred. They should have access to updated content, to cultural publications, to scientific magazines and books anywhere. Knowledge is the priority!”
The majority of tablets, currently consumed in African countries, are used for leisure rather than education purposes such as watching movies, playing video games and downloading music. Tablets, used at school, have limited options and no practical use in terms of creating and editing text documents, that is crucial for students. MySimax offers an updated version of tablet, which will suit academic needs of African students and allow increasing academic potential by effective use of electronic device.
Paulin says, “Tablets allow (students) to store not only the same support and all the teaching content, but also additional contents such as videos and audio material. It can give tools, like the search engine, to the student to increase his knowledge individually. Last but not least, this tool can enable students to increase their interaction between with other students, within the class but also from different schools”.
It is required that such technological devices as tablets are developed in conjunction with apps, designed for targeted areas. Jean-François Mve, director of a consulting firm in Gabon and major contributor of the “Strategic plan for an emerging Gabon, 2025 vision and 2011-2016 strategic orientation highlighted: “Company which wants to sell tablets in our countries should offer apps tailor-made for our needs, looking at the sectors we have interest in…Education, healthcare, commerce, and civil security apps can be successful here.”
While business sceptics are wondering whether it’s the right time to enter African market, many progressive businessmen such, as Paulin, are already settling in the developing market. It is apparent that there are still some obstacles, which make it complicated to enter the market, including slowness and unwillingness of government authorities to recognize the need for technology and innovation. However, if foreign innovative companies manage to enter the market, the outcome will be rewarding for both countries’ development and entrepreneurs.