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Geospatial data key to growth in Africa

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Africa is a place of extreme contrasts, with a booming middle class and small, rapidly growing clusters of wealth existing alongside swathes of widespread poverty. For a business owner hoping to tap into these growing markets, the value of population and geospatial data at a granular level cannot be overstated.

As competition for lucrative business opportunities becomes even fiercer in regions like Europe and North America, Africa is attracting more attention from the international business community than ever before. And this isn’t just in the powerhouses of South Africa and Nigeria – both of which have recently shown lacklustre economic growth of around 0.8% – while smaller economies like Ghana, Rwanda and Ethiopia show growth at double the rate of many of their sub-Saharan counterparts.

Africa is a place of extreme contrasts, with a booming middle class and small, rapidly growing clusters of wealth existing alongside swathes of widespread poverty. For a business owner hoping to tap into these growing markets, the value of population and geospatial data at a granular level cannot be overstated.

How, for example, is a restaurant or coffee chain that is already experiencing promising growth in East Africa to accurately understand neighbouring markets, into which they hope to aggressively expand in the coming months and years?

Buying survey data from traditional providers, and assembled at the city-wide or regional scale, can only get a business so far. After all, knowing how many potential consumers are present in a city with millions of people does little to help you capture the right clientele, when much of a business’s turnover is dependent on local foot traffic and patronage of customers mostly based in the immediate area.

Location, Location, Location

What is the average household income in the area you’re eyeing-out for your next franchise location? How many children does the average family have? How do they consume media? How many people live and work in the area? Which competitors will you be going up against, and how popular are they? Knowing the answers to these questions can mean the difference between success and failure in any market, especially those as rapidly evolving as the ones in many African urban centres.

By combining existing household data with a far more granular layer of individual information, it becomes possible to construct a more useful target-customer profile than has ever been possible before. At Fraym, for example, we help our clients to identify potential customers at the hyper-local level through division of the geographical landscape into far smaller sections, often grids that divide communities into detailed areas of as little as a single square kilometre.

A competitive landscape analysis that takes as many high-quality data points into account as possible is essential to reducing chances of failure in growing markets. Fortunately, the digital data disruption is adding unique advantages to the practice. When customers are clearly understood, a business can make the most informed decision possible when searching for a location that will expand their operations successfully. Satellite imagery and complex machine-learning algorithms are an invaluable way to process such large amounts of data, looking for the common thread between household survey data sets and the geo-coordinates of the respondents, to identify new opportunities that would previously have gone unnoticed.

Getting Big Impact from Small Areas

Very often, businesses will consider locations based on anecdotal evidence or expensive survey data – inefficient, often dated, and usually not aligned to the data points that a business would find relevant to their own product or service offering. These anecdotes and surveys also often focus on national, aggregate results, missing important insights into consumer characteristics beyond traditional boundaries. But our experience has proven time and time again that success rests on understanding small clusters of consumers at the neighbourhood level, with pockets of untapped consumers often popping up at the intersections of traditional geographic divisions.

The Bottom Line: Quality Over Quantity

Ask any multi-national company for a quick opinion about the African business landscape, and you’ll likely hear that it’s intimidatingly low on consumer data, but also rich with potential that almost no other region can match. Granular consumer data that is informed at the individual and community level, rather than the aggregate level, is essential for businesses hoping to get a foothold in these fast-growing pockets of potential. It’s no longer enough to ask where customers live. We must ask how they live as well, and answering this question will depend on new data sources and creative ways of looking at them, if companies are looking to grow across Africa in the coming years.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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