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Billion glances in Africa’s Game of Phones

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A recent survey has revealed that Africans check their phones on average every five minutes, many of them doing so on public transport, creating an ideal platform for businesses to evolve their value through sophisticated data analysis.

More than 33% of Africans check their phones every 5 minutes and more than half of smartphone users regularly use their devices on public transport, at work and while shopping.

This is opening the door for savvy businesses to provide a “platform for life” that evolves its value through sophisticated data analytics.

The latest edition of the Game of Phones Survey, released by the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) industry unit at Deloitte and which canvassed over 5,000 respondents across Africa, highlights that more than a billion glances are taking place on smartphones in Africa every day – with over one third checking their phones every five minutes. “This must mean something for businesses as it is clear smartphones are becoming ever more embedded in our lives. Usage indicates a serious shift away from just information and communication to virtually everything – from how we consume media, to banking, purchasing and gaming, for example,” says Mark Casey, Global Media and Entertainment Leader at Deloitte Global.

The research also found that more than half of Africa’s mobile users check their devices within five minutes of waking up and before going to bed. The report indicates that across all markets including South Africa, consumers are most active on their devices when making use of public transport. A smaller proportion of those surveyed reported that they used their mobile device for services such as insurance, healthcare and home security. Increasingly, mobile devices are being used across the region for financial services with the traditional banking models being constantly challenged via mobile technology.

“Such disruptive technology, especially with the traditional services sectors such as banking and finance, has the potential to be a game changer in that it allows for the previously unbanked to now be an active part for the broader economy, thus ensuring a more positive outcome in broadening economic participation among locals,” says Casey.

Arun Babu, Telecommunications Sector Leader at Deloitte, says businesses around the world are already going through a “transformation journey” to improve the way they harness digital disruption, but new trends require ongoing rethinking of business models.

“Users are looking for an increased range of services that are provided reliably and at speed in a brand-neutral continent. It is important that businesses understand the implications of this in order to achieve brand loyalty across a broad range of customers. It is clear consumers are not married to any component as they increasingly seek unified capability,” he says.

While mobile service providers and device manufacturers will need to enhance functionality to remain competitive, future business models in Africa generally need to be positioned for the reality of greater smartphone penetration.

The survey finds that Africa continues to experience huge growth in data usage, with consumers choosing smarter devices as they provide them with multiple functions in one.

While mobile internet remains dominant, Wi-Fi and fibre is growing albeit it is seen as “the dark horse”.

“Faster access speeds, cheaper connectivity and device centric content translates into an explosion of data consumption in both SA and Nigeria. This increase is driven mainly by the growth in Wi-Fi and fibre across the region,” says Babu.

When compared to South Africa and Nigeria, smartphone penetration in Kenya and Uganda remains fairly low given their rural demographic. However, 54% of South Africans use their smartphones to watch short videos compared to 52% of Nigerians whereas 28% of South African stream music compared to 25% of Nigerians.

The survey identifies coverage and speed of voice and data network as the most critical factors when choosing a network operator, followed closely by customer service and price and value for money. SA consumers are mostly influenced by price and service reliability which are often key factors when deciding to either change or stay with the service provider while consumers in other markets make decisions based on service reliability and availability.

“As connectivity in the region improves, consumers are given more choice in terms of smartphone networks and operators. This translates into a savvier consumer who is constantly on the lookout for better service and is more aware in terms of pricing of products and value for money service,” says Babu.

Device type ownership also varies fairly significantly across the regions surveyed, with the common theme across markets being multi-device ownership. Aspirational purchases will be a key factor in driving up sales of smartphones with factors such as increased rural urban migration and the emergence of an emerging middle class also contributing to the growth in sales of smart devices.

South Africa remains a multi-device market more consistent with developed markets followed closely by Nigeria. SA remains the strongest in terms of multi device ownership with more than half of users owning a smartphone, laptop and tablet.  Feature phones tend to dominate the more rural markets of Kenya and Uganda, however, smartphones are expected to experience substantial growth driven by stronger economic growth, increase in internet penetration and investment in mobile data networks.

These changes mean more and more African consumers are living “in the app”, opening a gap for new business models.

“There is, for example, an opportunity for multinational organisations to build new business models that create value by essentially giving away what they used to sell. This is because the competitive advantage of providing ‘more for less’ is being eroded daily to such an extent that all that remains is a world of ‘free assets’. There is room to take centre stage with a ‘platform for life’ that handles information, education, entertainment, purchases and financial services in one place and which keeps evolving through sophisticated data analytics,” concludes Casey.

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Seedstars seeks tech to reverse land degradation in Africa

A new partnership is offering prizes to young entrepreneurs for coming up with innovations that tackle the loss of arable land in Africa.

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The DOEN Foundation has joined forces with Seedstars, an emerging market startup community, to launch the DOEN Land Restoration Prize, which showcases solutions to environmental, social and financial challenges that focus on land restoration activities in Africa. Stichting DOEN is a Dutch fund that supports green, socially-inclusive and creative initiatives that contribute to a better and cleaner world.

While land degradation and deforestation date back millennia, industrialization and a rising population have dramatically accelerated the process. Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resilience to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. The potential benefits include improved food and water security, biodiversity protection, climate change resilience, and economic growth. Recognizing this opportunity, the African Union set an ambitious target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

Land restoration is an urgent response to the poor management of land. Forest and landscape restoration is the process of reversing the degradation of soils, agricultural areas, forests, and watersheds thereby regaining their ecological functionality. According to the World Resources Institute, for every $1 invested in land restoration it can yield $7-$30 in benefits, and now is the time to prove it.

The winner of the challenge will be awarded 9 months access to the Seedstars Investment Readiness Program, the hybrid program challenging traditional acceleration models by creating a unique mix to improve startup performance and get them ready to secure investment. They will also access a 10K USD grant.

“Our current economic system does not meet the growing need to improve our society ecologically and socially,” says Saskia Werther, Program Manager at the DOEN Foundation. “The problems arising from this can be tackled only if a different economic system is considered. DOEN sees opportunities to contribute to this necessary change. After all, the world is changing rapidly and the outlines of a new economy are becoming increasingly clear. This new economy is circular and regenerative. Landscape restoration is a vital part of this regenerative economy and social entrepreneurs play an important role to establish innovative business models to counter land degradation and deforestation. Through this challenge, DOEN wants to highlight the work of early-stage restoration enterprises and inspire other frontrunners to follow suit.”

Applications are open now and will be accepted until October 15th. Startups can apply here: http://seedsta.rs/doen

To enter the competition, startups should meet the following criteria:

  • Existing startups/young companies with less than 4 years of existence
  • Startups that can adapt their current solution to the land restoration space
  • The startup must have a demonstrable product or service (Minimum Viable Product, MVP)
  • The startup needs to be scalable or have the potential to reach scalability in low resource areas.
  • The startup can show clear environmental impact (either by reducing a negative impact or creating a positive one)
  • The startup can show a clear social impact
  • Technology startups, tech-enabled startups and/or businesses that can show a clear innovation component (e.g. in their business model)

Also, a specific emphasis is laid, but not limited to: Finance the restoration of degraded land for production and/or conservation purposes; big data and technology to reverse land degradation; resource efficiency optimization technologies, ecosystems impacts reduction and lower carbon emissions; water-saving soil technologies; technologies focused on improving livelihoods and communities ; planning, management and education tools for land restoration; agriculture (with a focus on precision conservation) and agroforestry; clean Energy solutions that aid in the combat of land degradation; and responsible ecotourism that aids in the support of land restoration.

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The dark side of apps

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Mobile device security threats are on the rise and it’s not hard to see why. In 2019 the number of worldwide mobile phone users is forecast to reach 4.68 billion of which 2.7 billion are smartphone users. So, if you are looking for a target, it certainly makes sense to go where the numbers are. Think about it, unsecured Wi-Fi connections, network spoofing, phishing attacks, ransomware, spyware and improper session handling – mobile devices make for the perfect easy target. In fact, according to Kaspersky, mobile apps are often the cause of unintentional data leakage.

“Apps pose a real problem for mobile users, who give them sweeping permissions, but don’t always check security,” says Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager for Kaspersky in Africa. “These are typically free apps found in official app stores that perform as advertised, but also send personal – and potentially corporate – data to a remote server, where it is mined by advertisers or even cybercriminals. Data leakage can also happen through hostile enterprise-signed mobile apps. Here, mobile malware uses distribution code native to popular mobile operating systems like iOS and Android to spread valuable data across corporate networks without raising red flags.”

In fact, according to recent reports, 6 Android apps that were downloaded a staggering 90 million times from the Google Play Store were found to have been loaded with the PreAMo malware, while another recent threat saw 50 malware-filled apps on the Google Play Store infect over 30 million Android devices. Surveillance malware was also loaded onto fake versions of Android apps such as Evernote, Google Play and Skype.

Considering that as of 2019, Android users were able to choose between 2.46 million apps, while Apple users have almost 1.96 million app options to select from, and that the average person has 60-90 apps installed on their phone, using around 30 of them each month and launching 9 per day – it’s easy to see how viral apps take several social media channels by storm.

“In this age where users jump onto a bandwagon because it’s fun or trendy, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) can overshadow basic security habits – like being vigilant on granting app permissions,” says Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky in Africa. “In fact, accordingly to a previous Kaspersky study, the majority (63%) of consumers do not read license agreements and 43% just tick all privacy permissions when they are installing new apps on their phone. And this is exactly where the danger lies – as there is certainly ‘no harm’ in joining online challenges or installing new apps.”

However, it is dangerous when users just grant these apps limitless permissions into their contacts, photos, private messages, and more. “Doing so allows the app makers possible, and even legal, access to what should remain confidential data. When this sensitive data is hacked or misused, a viral app can turn a source into a loophole which hackers can exploit to spread malicious viruses or ransomware,” adds Badenhorst. 

As such, online users should always have their thinking caps on and be more careful when it comes to the internet and their app habits including:

  • Only download apps from trusted sources. Read the reviews and ratings of the apps as well
  • Select apps you wish to install on your devices wisely
  • Read the license agreement carefully
  • Pay attention to the list of permissions your apps are requesting. Only give apps permissions they absolutely insist on, and forgo any programme that asks for more than necessary
  • Avoid simply clicking “next” during an app installation
  • For an additional security layer, be sure to have a security solution installed on your device

“While the app market shows no signs of slowing down, it is changing,” says Opil. “Consumers download the apps they love on their devices which in turn gives them access to content that is relevant and useful. The future of apps will be in real-world attribution, influenced by local content and this type of tailored in-app experience will lead consumers to share their data more willing in a trusted, premium app environment in exchange for more personalised experiences. But until then, proceed with caution.”

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