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Africa still awaits leapfrog moment

By ANDRIES BRINK, CEO of Andile Systems

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The leapfrog theory is attractive. In the words of the Financial Times, it’s “a quick jump in economic development by harnessing technological innovation.” This sounds great, particularly when you factor in the immense amount of innovation and modernisation currently happening. Accessing technology and services have never been easier, especially in Africa where mobile phones have spread further and wider than any other region. Such momentum has sparked dreams of Wakanda, the Afro-future society depicted in the Marvel movies.

Fervent adoption of technology made Africa the leading example of how leapfrogging could change society. But the real world isn’t as eloquent as theory. For example, while the M-Pesa mobile money service invented in Kenya has taken parts of the globe by storm, it and similar mobile money products have all but failed in South Africa. The obvious takeaway is the oft-cited phrase “Africa is not a country.” But I prefer another philosophy: Local challenges need local solutions. Leapfrogging needs local context.

Tangible leapfrogging that lasts is possible and doesn’t only have to relate to a low starting base. At Andile Solutions, we see this play out repeatedly as we deliver banking modernisation projects to organisations across the continent. Recently we deployed modern Treasury solutions to ZANACO in Zambia and Fidelity in Ghana – these are established organisations looking to remove legacy technologies and efficiently take a step into tomorrow. Both projects are successes and some of that credit should go to our excellent teams. But there is more to glean from the experience.

Africa is laden with technical debt, created by a legacy of ageing technologies. These aren’t just systems languishing in back rooms. International providers have taken to dumping older technologies here, wrapped in promises that technology will deliver on potential. That isn’t true: it’s people and context that deliver potential, choosing technologies that fit. If you are not on the ground, gaining a real understanding of what is needed for a given project, you’re doing little more than shoehorning ideas from other markets into local spaces. This inevitably leads to not realising the expected value behind modernisation.

The above is aggravated by the transient nature of many technology providers. They enter the market motivated foremost to relieve their flagging revenue, not to create opportunities. Once their projections fall short or they don’t size up to the grit needed to do business here, they cut and run. Some will even undercut the competition purely for a good balance on a spreadsheet – the long-term consequences of their actions aren’t considered. It’s because they have no real vested interest in Africa’s unique success, in the rise of Wakanda.

Technology companies born and bred in Africa have a very different perspective. We don’t see Africa as just another place to make money. We see Africa as a giant ready to take global history by storm. This creates both a sense of unity as well as a deep respect for what Africa was, is and will be. Ultimately it creates a sense of purpose that those outside of the continent might struggle to understand and appreciate.

Mobile phones made for a symbolic example of Africa’s untapped potential. But I’ve seen the next stage of leapfrogging show itself through our banking projects. Small startups and struggling incumbents have changed their fortunes through the smart and contextual application of modern technologies. Sometimes these technologies come from abroad – we partner with some of the best in the international fintech space – but they only work when applied through a local prism, where the bottom line is the result of passion, customer-centricity and homegrown context. 

Africa’s challenges can seem staggering. Infrastructure, education and R&D are areas that require a lot more attention. But dreams of Wakanda can become reality. Those challenges are not insurmountable. Many technology providers like to say this, but only those with a real nose for local requirements and with their futures firmly invested in Africa can deliver. They are the ones who make leapfrogging a reality.

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GoFundMe hits R9bn in donations for people and causes

The world’s largest social fundraising platform has announced that Its community has made more than 120-million donations

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GoFundMe this week released its annual Year in Giving report, revealing that its community has donated more than 120-million times, raising over $9-billion for people, causes, and organisations since the company’s founding in 2010.

In a letter to the GoFundMe community, CEO Rob Solomon emphasised how GoFundMe witnesses not only the good in people worldwide, but their generosity and their action every day.

“As we enter a new decade, GoFundMe is committed to spreading compassion and empathy through our platform,” said Solomon in the letter. “Together, we can bring more good into the world and unlock the power of global giving.”

The GoFundMe giving community continues to grow with both repeat donors and new donors. In fact, nearly 60% of donors were new this year. After someone makes a donation, they continue to engage with the community and give to multiple causes. In fact, one passionate individual donated 293 times to 234 different fundraisers in this past year alone. Donations are made every second, ranging from $5 to $50,000. This year, more than 40% of donations were under $50.

GoFundMe continues to be a mirror of current events across the globe. This year, young changemakers started the Fridays for Futuremovement to fight climate change, which led to a 60% increase in fundraiser descriptions mentioning ‘climate change’. Additionally, the community rallied together to support one another during natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian and the California wildfires, where thousands of fundraisers were started to help those in need.

The report includes a snapshot of giving trends from the year based on global GoFundMe data. It also includes company milestones from 2019, such as launching the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, GoFundMe.org, and introducing GoFundMe Charity, which provides enterprise software with no subscription fees or contracts to charities of every size.

Highlights from GoFundMe’s 2019 Year in Giving report include:

  • Global giving trends and data
  • Top 10 most generous countries
  • Top 10 most generous U.S. states and cities
  • Biggest moments in 2019

To view the entire report, visit: www.gofundme.com/2019

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Cars

For users, in-car touchscreens ever more useless

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As touchscreens become more commonplace, the gulf of perceived differences in the performance of these features between cars and other devices (such as mobile and in-home) has become wider. A new report from the In-Vehicle UX (IVX) group at Strategy Analytics has investigated car owners’ satisfaction with their on-board touchscreens. Long hamstrung by poor UX and extended production cycles, in-car touchscreens are seen by car users and buyers as lagging behind the experience offered by touchscreens outside the car. As such, consumer satisfaction has continued to slide in China and Europe, while reaching historic lows in the US.

Surveying consumers in the US, Western Europe, and China via web-survey, key report findings include:

  • Difficult text entry and excessive fingerprint smudging are common complaints among all car owners.
  • Because touchscreens have reached market saturation in the US, satisfaction with in-car screens has tailed off significantly.
  • However, touchscreens remain a relatively newer phenomenon in many car models in Western Europe (compared with the US) and thus their limitations are less prominent in the minds of car owners.
  • Overall touchscreen satisfaction fell for the fifth straight year in China, indicating a growing impatience for in-car UX to match UX found elsewhere in the consumer electronics space.

Derek Viita, Senior Analyst and report author, says, “Part of the issue with fingerprint smudging is the angle at which in-car touchscreens are installed – they make every fingerprint increasingly visible.

“Fingerprint smudging is an issue across all touchscreen-based consumer electronics. But in most form factors and especially mobile devices, consumers can quite easily adjust their viewing angle. This is not always the case with fixed in-car screens.”

Says Chris Schreiner, Director, Syndicated Research UXIP, “Although hardware quality certainly figures in many of the usual complaints car owners have about their screens, it is not the sole factor. Cockpit layout and UI design can play important roles in mitigating some issues with in-car touchscreens.”

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