How We Can Build Great App Products in Africa

How We Can Build Great App Products in Africa

By Ajayi Joel

I studied how apps survive, and discovered that if such apps were not day to day usage, they would end up being frozen.

Or uninstalled

Personally, I feel we have a lot to do in the app development world in Africa. I had a discussion with someone, a game developer, recently.

What if Facebook was made by a Nigerian? Will it be as used and popular as it is? What about if WhatsApp was made by a Kenyan? Will it have over 1 billion users? What about Instagram or even Candy Crush saga ( a game)?

I have been asking myself this question for months. Is it just because we are Africans that our products (apps in this scenario) cannot become global products?

I am quite aware that because we are Nigerians, we have a lot of disadvantage in scaling. Those include finance, reputation, mentality, etc. But should we say Facebook may not have scaled if it was built by a Nigerian or that we have not really built apps that meet needs in Africa and solve problems?

I have discussed with many app developers in Nigeria. Why was there a rush and a huge acceptance of WhatsApp over 2go? Why do we have millions of Africans using Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat?

Millions using Medium, Google Drive, Dropbox, Medium, Candy Crush, Canva, and LinkedIn

WhatsApp is free. Facebook is free but they make money from ads. What if we solved huge problems with apps in Africa, Will we survive?

I personally believe that if we want to build good apps that will scale, we should focus on building apps that help people complete the jobs they downloaded it for.

The tech world in Africa is living in the future. A.I. is coming; I don’t believe we are anywhere close though.

I have made posts on why Africa cannot skip the 1st, 2nd and third industrial revolution to jump to the fourth which is what we are doing..

Honest truth is that we have not crossed any. We don’t have industries that produce!

How can we say we want to be focusing on electric cars when we don’t have skilled staff that can build good roads? Firstly, the tech world in Africa is missing it which I have issues with.

They attribute tech to coding alone which isn’t true. That aside, the whole ecosystem is jumping the gun. Some are getting it right.

I made a post recently on the Want Economy and the Need Economy.

Trust me, a lot of us are building products that are wants and this is Africa. Africa for now can only survive on products that are needs.

  1. It must be very affordable
  2. It must be durable
  3. There must be guarantee on durability

Can a platform like Medium thrive in Nigeria? Well, yes!

Medium charges $5 monthly which is peanut money to a 14 year old outside the country but huge to a married man here to just “read exclusive articles”. Why not $1.5 instead?

We should begin to build products that meet our immediate needs, solve our present problems even though there are several factors affecting the success rates of these products.

I was at a Nigerian hub last year and I got to see the products some guys were making; very intelligent ideas but I felt some were overboard in my own opinion.

Ideas like using VR for education.

Common… VR

Who will afford it? Maybe their target audience is the rich schools though. But, for me, I always rant about how we approach tech in Africa. We think we are on the same level with the white guys when we have not had internet access everywhere yet, or good electricity.

We need to recalibrate and build for our market. That is how we can build great products in Africa.

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