There are so many mobile phone applications. Some of them are completely useless, some entertain us when sitting on the toilet, and some fit into our daily life so easily, that it is only when our phone goes missing or breaks down that we really need it. Mobile apps are inviting innovation and Africa is accepting. In Africa, apps are not just trying to solve problems people don’t know they have, for example something like Shazam, which magically tells you what song your listen to, they are solving real problems.
In a previous blog I mentioned that AppsAfrica had launched their call for applicants for their innovation awards. This week they have released the finalists for their innovation awards. The awards will take place in Cape Town on the 14th of November. The finalists have been whittled down from over 200 startups, from 25 African countries.
Amongst the finalist are Flutterwave, that support financial inclusion of all payment methods, Domestly, that supports people fund work in households, Eneza Education, who support education using mobile devices, and Worldreader, who seek to provide books for every child in Africa, all whom we have features in the blog previously. (They are all great innovations, click on the links to see what we thought of them) We have picked out our best from the rest (in our opinion)
SpacePointe aims to help African SMEs to increase revenue from both their offline and online market channels. They have joined the booming e-commerce sphere in Africa by offering an online marketplace which enables SMEs to very easily sell their products online, without the expense of building their own websites and marketing. Offline, they have created Point Of Sale (POS) mechanism, called in partnership with companies in the banking and technology space. They will help with the distribution with mobile POS devices to SMEs to enable them to have offline connection with the online marketplace.
Saving has long been an issue in the African continent. Often people do not have enough money when they have an emergency like a health problem. M-Pesa have a spin off to address the health insurance issue, but Piggybank.ng deals with the problem with saving in general. The company enables you to save small amounts of money on a daily, weekly or monthly rate until you reach a set target. There are no fees, and there is a 4% interest rate on your account. The set amount is taken form your account and put into your Piggybank.ng account and can be removed at any time. It is developments like this that will desensitise the continent to the concept of saving.
ShuleDirect aims to let students to learn and build on their capacity anywhere and anytime. It utilised existing tech, and provides internet and mobile educational platforms for students and teachers as well as offering local learning content on many subject. Not only does the platform offer content, they join students together to communicate in forums, discussing topics, enable students to have access to past exam papers so they can practice exams, access study notes from the Tanzanian syllabus and even connect with other students on a social basis.
Bottles app is solving a ‘first world problem’ in South Africa. If you go on to their website, you will first be asked to confirm you are over 18 years old. That is because their innovation involves purchasing alcohol. Whilst lack of alcohol may not be a pressing issue for many in Africa, it is the model that we find interesting. Their app lets you to pick your location, chose your alcohol and have it delivered to your location within an hour chilled and ready to drink. This will be a useful service for many, and takes on the model of the take away food services, but now that the African telecommunication network allows it, could be rolled out to other sectors.
Flare is another innovations that follows in the footsteps of Uber’s African disruption. Their mobile solution brings together all available ambulances on a system that enables patients or hospitals to request one in an emergency using their smartphone. The app enables patients and hospitals to request help quickly, which has often been a problem in many areas across the continent. Ambulances are often very difficult to be found, and can even be seen used to carry the dead (and their coffins) to funerals during a weekend. There is often not an effective 999 emergency hotline. This app will ensure that they are utilised for more important emergencies.
There are countless apps being developed in Africa everyday, many of them solving a problem that we could not imagine in Europe or America. What are your favourite apps, tweet us at @InventiveAfrica and please also share the blog on Twitter and Facebook.