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Southern Africa growth stalls
– can remittances save us?

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by Andrew Stewart, MD for MEA, WorldRemit

After a slowdown in recent years, Africa is experiencing an uptick in growth. West and East Africa are leading the way: Ethiopia is predicted to grow at 8.5% in 2018 while Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal aren’t far behind at 7.4% and 7% respectively. However, while Southern African countries like Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland may lead in measures of human development, the SADC region is one of the slowest-growing regions on the continent, averaging 2.9% in growth.

As Southern Africa copes with challenges, from drought to a fall in commodity prices, the region has an ace in its back pocket: remittances. The key to unlocking its growth potential, however, depends on the ability to reduce the average cost of sending money home among its large migrant population which numbers over 3.2 million. While the SADC region leads in regional integration, the high cost of sending remittances across borders within the region, curtails their transformative impact. Cheaper remittances will boost growth: we know remittances increase when the costs fall and joint UCLA-IMF research shows that higher remittances can boost growth.

Globally, the cost of remittances is dropping annually – that’s the good news. The bad news is that the SADC region has some of the most expensive currency corridors in the world. Put bluntly, it costs R3.20 per kilometre to send a $200 (R2,786) transfer between neighbours South Africa and Botswana, but it costs just R1.11 per kilometre to send from South Africa to India which is over 20 times the distance. This isn’t just bad for individuals who see hard-earned wages swallowed by excessive fees, but it is also bad for the regional economy. While 90% of transfers from South Africa are destined for neighbouring Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho, the majority of these transfers are informal. The scale of these unregulated money transfers, with all the insecurity this entails, squanders an opportunity to spur regional economic growth. 

According to Finmark Trust, a non-profit funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, SADC migrants living in South Africa remit approximately R16.6 billion home each year – nearly half the GDP of Lesotho. Bringing down the cost of remittances to the UN Sustainable Development Goal of 3% would unlock a further $44 million (R612-million) for families across the region who depend on remittances for food, education, healthcare and seed capital for new businesses. Considering the SADC region is the most unequal region in Africa, introducing more convenient, cheaper remittance options can help tackle the region’s inequality.

Click here to read about how rural areas would benefit from tech-based solutions.

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TikTok looks for SA talent

The fast-rising short-video platform has launched a #PickMe campaign to discover local stars.

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TikTok, which claims to be the world’s leading destination for short-form videos, launches its first PickMe campaign, an effort to discover creative talents and provide a stage to express themselves in South Africa. Starting March 1, TikTok kicked off a month-long search through participants’ 15-second videos under hashtag #PickMe.

TikTok says it is committed to investing in South Africa and discovering the local talents. The PickMe campaign is supported by its local partners like Huawei, MTV Base and Digify Africa.

Local stars, including comedian and singer Lasizwe and singer Nadia Jaftha, have joined the campaign and called for users to show their talents on TikTok.

There are 5 categories of video shooting in the campaign, namely dance, acting, comedy, singing and cosmetics. Participants need to shoot a 15-second video using TikTok using #PickMe and tag @tiktok_africa to participate in the challenge. The finalists will be selected based on their video performance. The most popular and talented participants will have the chance to win prizes like Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphones, a day at MTV Base, and a once-off-presenter opportunity and attendance at an intensive video production workshop delivered by Digify Africa.

“TikTok has definitely evolved into something that everyone loves and uses. It’s given creators a space to create more unique content and also help the creator gain a whole new kind of fan base, ” says Preven Reddy, Imbewu The Seed TV-star and Megazone radio host who is also a TikTok user.

Says TikTok video creator Mihlali Nxanga: “As a young South African working towards being in the entertainment industry, TikTok has given me the platform to grow my following tremendously. Within 6 months, my fan base has grown by a whopping 90 000, and not only from South Africa, but the whole world. For me, TikTok is not just a content platform, it is a global community.”

The campaign will wrap up on March 31. The list of the finalist will be announced in the app and on official Instagram @tiktok_southafrica. For more information, please visit the TikTok app.

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Rugby fan experience transformed by digital platform

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The South African Rugby Federation has embraced digitalisation as a key enabler of its strategic aspirations. It has worked with Accenture to transform fan engagement for Springbok supporters with the launch of a digital fan platform.

“Digital technology and social media have transformed how modern fans watch, support and engage with their favourite teams,” says SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. “To maintain our relevance amid this new market dynamic, and grow our fan base, we’ve acknowledged the vital need to digitally transform our organisation.”

Wayne Hull, managing director for Accenture Digital in Africa, says: “SA Rugby’s ambition to pivot to a more fan-centric strategy requires digital design, content, platforms and insights because modern consumers, including loyal Springbok supporters, engage predominantly via mobile digital channels and expect hyper-personalised experiences.”

Accenture Digital’s development process started with quantitative and qualitative research, which informed the user experience (UX) design guidelines and content strategy for the digital fan engagement platform.

“To know what fans want, we needed to understand the fans themselves,” says Hull. “The Accenture Digital team mined the research data and identified multiple fan ‘personas’, which all have different content consumption, platform functionality and engagement preferences.”

The platform development team focused on three critical elements to meet these requirements – the customer experience (CX), the engagement engine and cloud-based deployment.

“To deliver a memorable and engaging CX, Accenture Digital leveraged leading digital experience software,” says Hull. “The result is a fully integrated and responsive platform that creates seamless, personalised digital fan experiences across SA Rugby’s content, commerce and digital marketing initiatives in a manner that makes fans feel recognised and connected to the players and the game.”

The new platform will serve as the first point of call for any rugby fan who wants to get their data fix with exclusive statistics, analytics and insights. The platform’s content style will include more visual elements – videos and images – with more concise articles that are easier to digest, in accordance with evolving content consumption preferences on mobile screens. This will complement long-form thought leadership and insight pieces. 

In addition, fans will enjoy exclusive access to player-related content, such as behind-the-scenes footage and game and training performance stats. SA Rugby will also benefit from the ability to track comments and mentions via the Sitecore analytics platform Accenture Digital implemented, to respond and engage in the conversations Springbok fans are having on social media about the game, the teams or the players.

To do this, SA Rugby required a consolidated view of the customer. However, data resided in disparate sites across ticketing providers and SA Rugby’s e-commerce and online magazine databases. This information will be consolidated into the CRM system, with multiple integration points available to leverage this data.

The CRM system’s functionality will help to reveal insights such as fan communication preferences and their likes and dislikes, which will place hyper-relevance at the core of SA Rugby’s fan experience and engagement strategy.

 The final element in the platform development was cloud deployment, which allows fans to access the platform from any device that has an internet connection. The platform is hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment, which is stable, secure and fully redundant. It gives SA Rugby the flexibility to manage the platform themselves, with the option to integrate or scale additional functionality down the line.

Based on the outcome, Hull believes that Accenture Digital has successfully reimagined, built and delivered a world-class, modern and mobile-friendly digital fan platform that creates a fun, immersive and engaging experience for fans.

“It’s a major step towards helping SA Rugby realise its ambition to become a fan-centric, forward-looking and nimble organisation, and we look forward to building and developing the platform further with the team as their digital fan engagement requirements evolve,” says Hull

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