Where are East Africa’s next big ideas stemming from? And can you move to capitalize on the opportunity?
Over the past 48 hours, twenty five ideas battled it out in what was arguably the biggest and best organized tech event regionally dubbed Pivot 25. The tech competition was organized by the mLab – a consortium composed of the University of Nairobi, the Ihub, eMobilis and the World Wide Web Foundation. What was exciting about Pivot25 was the international benchmark that it adopted that made for interesting attendance and discussions.
Of interest were the different categories in which developers from across the region submitted their ideas. These were mobile payments and mobile commerce, mobile entertainment gaming and utilities, mobile business and enterprise, m-government, agriculture and education, and finally mobile health. These speak to the areas that I believe can see the fastest growth and adoption of mobile services if done right.Mobile commerce has started to gain traction with demand from consumers for convenience having grown as well as the development of supporting technologies such as mobile money. There is no clear regional leader though many firms are gunning for the top spot.
Mobile business and enterprise solutions are coming up to address the myriad of needs presented by small and medium sized enterprises. These solutions leverage “the cloud” to deliver software as a service that ensures lower cost of ownership and adoption. There are many niche services that can be built for this very large client base.
Health services delivered on mobile has been characterized by small siloed deployments mostly by non-governmental organizations which have a problem scaling nationally mostly because of resource and strategy constrains. Implementation in this space I believe needs some element of public private partnerships to best succeed.
The use of mobile in education is also yet to see serious innovation locally. Traditional education that was characterized by books and classroom settings needs to be turned on its head and content adapted for a mobile consumer. Perhaps we need to think differently about what flavor of content is best packaged for mobile consumption and that can be considered education.
On gaming, I am yet to come across a locally developed title that has been released officially into the market and allowed to gain traction or fail. This presents a unique opportunity for one to claim this space.
There are many other opportunities in tech and sometimes these are hidden in plain sight, which makes it important that you interact with peers, industry players and investors at forums such as Pivot25 to expand your thinking.
The simplicity of the solutions with the greatest potential is sure to get you thinking different.