African entrepreneurs in the age of data revolution and personalization of everything

African entrepreneurs in the age of data revolution and personalization of everything

Technology is redesigning industrial sectors and transforming people, nations and governments. As we continue to experience innovations in A.I, machine learning and overall computational models, new business models and processes will emerge. Personalization is going to become the business model standard of the 21st century.
Emerging technologies will bring the individual to the epicenter of solution development and spur design and development of more and more customized and need-based products and services. This will allow ‘on demand’ and personalized access at affordable prices and empower the individual to have a say in solution development and the governance of his or her data.
Fintech startups have been leading the way, leveraging data backed insights to develop customized financial products and serve financially excluded populations. However, the potential is much larger for disrupting the way companies, governments and donors design and deliver solutions and engage with the BoP consumers.

How we design solutions: From customization to precision

Today there are 15 billion connected devices worldwide, generating massive amounts of data about people using them. About 725 million people in Africa are projected to subscribe to mobile services by 2020. The resulting explosion of data will fuel deeper insights informing customized solutions, leveraging emerging technologies. Blockchain and AI enabled smart contracts will enable personalization of nearly everything across the product life cycle. Mobile phones will serve as a medium for registering and serving about 400 million people in Africa who today lack any official form of identification.

East-Africa based Tala, for example, is a data science and mobile technology company which is already gathering information about a customer from over 10,000 data points to form a financial identity with a credit score within five seconds. Precision medicine is beginning to target an individual’s personalized needs using a combination of genomics, Big Data and predictive analytics. Going forward, this will also inform more targeted public healthcare approaches and allow greater precision in disease surveillance.

How we deliver solutions: Accessibility and affordability for all

New insights will allow further segmentation of BoP markets, driving more informed and personalized marketing, pricing, delivery and financing strategies for improving access. The healthcare sector, for example, will see a transition towards personalized delivery, increasing access and affordability. While telemedicine and mobile health services have already facilitated ‘on demand’ medical advice, emerging technologies will drive a new wave of personalization. Wearables will provide people with data and tools to make better health decisions and also be accountable for their decisions.

Big Data in combination with predictive analysis and newer forms of remote diagnostics will shift health and disease management from being reactive to preventive, reducing costs for patients and healthcare providers alike. Similarly, IoT and Big Data will encourage insurance providers to rethink their business models and client interaction. For example, sensor enabled real time feedback and predictive analysis of consumer behavior can shift property and casualty insurance from a ‘reimbursement’ model to a ‘prevention and loss control’ model.

How we engage with the individual: Enhanced accountability and empowerment

Personalized and decentralized solutions will drive redistribution of power, accountability and decision making to the individual. Personal data encryption and decentralized data management will redefine the way data is shared and hence, what data is being used for solution development.

MedRec and IBM Watson Health are examples of innovators who are working on creating Blockchain enabled data management system for health records and strengthening a patient’s ability to manage and own his or her data. Empowerment of the individual will also extend to production itself. Currently CAD files for 3D Printing is restricted in use owing to issues around intellectual property (IP) and design theft. Blockchain can overcome these issues via smart contracts and trigger exponential use of 3D Printing.


  • Health providers are able to prevent more than USD210.7 million in healthcare fraud in one year using predictive analytics (Source:
  • Market for personal 3D printers increased 33% in 2015 (Source:
  • Worldwide Wearables Market increased 67.2% in Q1 of 2016 (Source: IDC)
  • Personalized medicine market will be worth over USD149 billion by 2020 (Source:

Rounding Up

It is here – the era where everything can be personalized. As internet penetrates across Africa, this will be easier across different industrial sectors. Entrepreneurs must understand this design and be “open” as they architect products and services. Products of the 21st century will be personalized.

Share this post

Post Comment