With its young population, dynamic growth and improving infrastructure, sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to become a manufacturing powerhouse, but first it must boost efficiency and productivity, says MATTHEW KIBBY, VP: Sage Enterprise, Africa & Middle East.
African countries from South Africa to Ethiopia to Nigeria are pinning some of their hope for economic growth and job creation on industrialisation. With its young population, dynamic growth and rapidly improving infrastructure, sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to become a manufacturing powerhouse in the years to come.
But first, African manufacturers must boost efficiency, productivity and quality if they are to compete with low-cost producers in Asia as well as with the high-tech, tightly integrated supply chains in North America and Europe. A new industrial revolution is rapidly transforming how and where goods are made, and the African industry needs to keep up.
For example, advanced robotics and a range of innovative materials are making it cheaper and faster to produce even complex technical goods in factories across the world. Leading manufacturers are using tools such as the Internet of Things, big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve productivity, reduce energy and resource consumption – and African companies stand a chance of getting left behind.
To stand out in a globalised market, African manufacturers need to be able to compete with low cost overseas competitors. Taking control of data for better customer insight is key – it will enable manufacturers to anticipate customer demands and become more agile.
Delivering the right product, at the right time and at the right price requires manufacturers to take total control of their product development process, from initial design to final production. By using specialist technology will help shorten the time-to-market for products, improve product quality, and increase customer satisfaction.
Better business management – better business
Before jumping into advanced robotics or AI, sub-Saharan Africa’s manufacturers should be looking at their business management systems to ensure they are fit for purpose. Many of them are using legacy systems or even heavily manual processes, rather than integrated, enterprise applications. A robust business management solution can be a real game changer, helping manufacturers meet the evolving challenges of today’s business world.
According to a recent Forrester report, manufacturers can realise up to 218% return on investment (ROI) within four months by implementing effective business management solutions. The report also found that, as well as receiving significant ROI within a short amount of time, manufacturing organisations reported strong improvements in: financial management; purchasing; sale management; inventory management; and customer service.
Business management solutions enable manufacturers to meet the challenges of today’s business world, helping them to accelerate collaboration and reporting, providing real-time insight into costs and operational performance, and providing information for smarter and faster business decisions. This, in turn, allows them to enhance efficiency, diminish costs, and increase sales and profitability.
Next generation business management systems enable a company to optimise the end-to-end manufacturing process – including production planning, project management, process scheduling, compliance, and mobile supply chain management, while reducing overall total manufacturing costs.
Removing the heavy-lifting and mundane tasks that slow down productivity, stifle flexibility and inhibit growth can transform an organisation into a world-class player. Improved visibility between the front- and the back-office will lead to better insight and improved decision making across key company operations.
An investment worth making
Next-generation business management solutions take the complexity out of running a manufacturing business, simplifying operations to allow enterprises to grow faster and stay agile. With minimal IT investment and resources, companies can enjoy rich, integrated functionality to support all core business processes. And they’re easy to adapt to fit unique processes, roles and preferences.
Automated solutions and consistent processes lead to time and cost savings, easier collaboration and faster outcomes. Integrated reporting allows regular and real-time operational insights, enabling better, quicker business decisions. The right solution will allow African manufacturing companies to consistently deliver and take advantage of new commercial opportunities.
The efficient, streamlined processes that stem from the right business management solutions enable improved productivity and profitability – and accelerated growth.
Africa phones go flat
Africa’s mobile phone market declined 2.1% quarter on quarter in Q3 2018 according to the latest figures from IDC.
The global technology research and consulting firm newly released Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows overall shipments for the quarter totalled 52.6 million units, with feature phone shipments falling 2.7% QoQ and smartphone shipments declining 1.3% over the same period.
Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel) led the feature phone space in Q3 2018, with a combined unit share of 58.2%. Nokia was next in line with 11.7% share. Transsion, Samsung, and Huawei dominated the smartphone space with respective unit shares of 34.9%, 21.7%, and 10.2%. However, in value terms, Samsung led the smartphone market with 37.2% share, followed by Transsion (21.0%) and Huawei (13.0%).
There were differing fortunes in the region’s three major markets, with Nigeria suffering a heavy 11.6% QoQ decline in mobile phone shipments, while South Africa and Kenya saw respective QoQ growth of 8.5% and 7.9% in Q3 2018.
“The decline in Nigeria stemmed from a slowdown in government spending, ongoing warfare in the country’s northern states, and market uncertainty in the lead up to elections,” says George Mbuthia, a research analyst at IDC. “In South Africa, the market’s growth was spurred by the penetration of low-end devices from brands such as Mobicel, Mint, and Nokia, while the launch of entry-level smartphones helped drive growth in Kenya despite increases in taxes and fuel prices placing a significant burden on disposable income in the country.”
While feature phones remain steadfastly popular across Africa, particularly in more rural areas, consumers are increasingly being attracted by smartphone offerings from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei, which are actively targeting feature-oriented customers at more economical price points.
“There is a new wave of Chinese brands aggressively pursuing growth opportunities in the region, while the more-established Huawei is also accelerating its marketing efforts and expanding its distribution budget,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC. “These brands have quickly progressed along the learning curve and evolved their offerings to perfectly reflect the realities of the region by addressing the diverse pricing and feature needs of the consumer base.”
Looking ahead, IDC expects Africa’s overall mobile phone market to reach 58 million units in Q4 2018, spurred by the festive season and online consumer events such as Black Friday. The introduction of more affordable smartphones in the African market will help drive progress in this space over the coming quarters, while the share of feature phones will decline steadily as the transition to smartphones gathers momentum.
Mobile money to cross borders
Orange and MTN launch pan-African mobile money interoperability to scale up mobile financial services across Africa.
Two of Africa’s largest mobile operators and mobile money providers, Orange Group and MTN Group, today announced a joint venture, Mowali (mobile wallet interoperability), to enable interoperable payments across the continent. Mowali makes it possible to send money between mobile money accounts issued by any mobile money provider, in real time and at low cost.
Mowali will immediately benefit from the reach of MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money, bringing together over 100 million mobile money accounts and mobile money operations in 22 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 markets. Mowali is ready to enable interoperability between digital financial service providers beyond MTN and Orange operations and markets, to support the existing 338 million mobile money accounts in Africa.
Mowali is a digital payment infrastructure that connects financial service providers and customers in one inclusive network. It functions as an industry utility, open to any mobile money provider in Africa, including banks, money transfer operators and other financial service providers.
The objective of Mowali is to increase the usage of mobile money by consumers and merchants. Mowali enables money to circulate freely between mobile money accounts from any operators in all countries. From the customer’s point of view, this means “I can pay or receive money anywhere from my mobile account regardless of my operator”. The system will unlock further innovation in the digital financial space within the continent.
For Stéphane Richard, Chairman & CEO of Orange, “by providing full interoperability between platforms, Mowali will provide an important step forward that will allow mobile money to become a universal means of payment in Africa. Increasing financial inclusion through the use of digital technology is an essential element in furthering the economic development of Africa, particularly for more isolated communities. This solution embodies Orange’s ambition to be a leading player in the digital transformation of the continent. By joining forces with another of Africa’s market leaders, MTN, we aim to accelerate the pace of this transformation in a way that will change the lives of our customers by providing them with simpler, safer and more advantageous services. “
“One of MTN’s goals is to accelerate the penetration of mobile financial services in Africa, Mowali is one such vehicle that will help us achieve that objective. Furthermore, co-operation and partnerships that help us accelerate the pace of development and overcome some of the scale, scope and complexity of challenges that society faces are key. This partnership with Orange is therefore an important step in helping us play a meaningful role in supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals related to eliminating extreme poverty and enhancing socio-economic development in the markets we operate in and beyond. Thus giving our customers access to a bright, digital future.” said Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN.
The GSMA supports the Mowali initiative as interoperability at this scale is a key accelerator for both financial inclusion and Mobile Money usability across Africa. “Today, there are over 690 million mobile money accounts around the world. Mobile money services have become an essential, life-changing tool across Africa, providing access to safe and secure financial services but also to energy, health, education and employment opportunities. The creation of Mowali will help to further transform mobile financial services throughout the African region. It demonstrates the mobile industry’s continued leadership and commitment to driving financial inclusion and economic empowerment through industry collaboration. The GSMA is proud to support its development,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA.
“Interoperability of digital payments has been the toughest hurdle for the financial services industry to overcome, in support of financial inclusion. With Mowali, Orange and MTN deliver a solution that will enable them, and other companies, to scale digital financial services across Africa, faster, to everyone—including the poor,” said Kosta Peric, deputy director of Financial Services for the Poor, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “This is a signal that a new wave of innovation, which can help alleviate poverty and drive economic opportunity, is coming. We’re pleased to see an implementation of Mojaloop—an open source payment platform available to operators across the sector—help achieve that.”