Africa's mobile market on the brink of change
2014 will be a key time for investment and innovation in the African telecoms market as the continent begins to change dramatically, according to an in-depth report released by TA Telecom.
Bringing together the knowledge of analysts and industry bodies, Serving Communities on the Cusp of Change, provides insight for mobile operators looking to succeed in the African market, including opportunities around the proliferation of low-cost smartphones, improved 3G coverage and SMS as a medium for agnostic content delivery.
The report highlights how service providers are now facing challenges in the African telecoms market that were previously only prevalent in more developed regions.
These challenges include new devices like low-cost smartphones, over-the-top technologies and the negative perception of messaging services by a new generation of users.
TA Telecom’s report outlines current market growth and highlights how cellphone penetration is currently over 80 per cent.
However, despite these rapidly increasing mobile adoption rates, certain challenges are severely affecting the profitability of the telecoms market in Africa meaning global ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) for operators has fallen over 80 percent from 2001.
The report advises operators on the practical steps necessary to implement a successful strategy for the future, demonstrating how to increase ARPU through infotainment subscription services and increase customer stickiness through building bridges between operators and subscribers.
Serving Communities on the Cusp of Change details how the majority of connections in Africa (62.7 percent) are still basic 2G voice and SMS service.
These findings emphasise that, despite the fact Microsoft and Huawei launched their 4Afrika smartphone in February 2013, there still needs to be a strategic focus on SMS infotainment subscription services.
Based on TA Telecom’s research, it is these traditional and mainstream subscription services that are key to retaining ARPU and increasing subscriber rate.
Alongside delving into stats and insider information on the technicalities of the telecoms market, TA Telecom’s report also puts a strong emphasis on how doing any kind of business in a continent like Africa, with seven major language groups and an estimated 3,000 languages, must be done in a cost-effective and culturally appropriate way.
Amr Shady, Chief Executive Officer and founder of TA Telecom said: “It isn’t just technological advancement and shifts in business practices that make doing business in Africa such a challenge.
“Our report highlights how the consumer’s gender, religion, political views and news consumption have a powerful effect on the shape of the African market.
“We wanted to emphasise the need for service operators to innovate and use technology to increase their earnings and market position.
“The report attempts to help African operators and investors from around the world understand how the market works and where they can fit in.
“It is important that operators don’t forget that despite the rise of the smartphone in Africa, SMS should still be core to any infotainment subscription service. ”
The report concludes by explaining how, as budget smartphones become increasingly available in the African market, mobile service providers need to be able to act as catalysts for the communities that they serve, offering better and richer customer experiences.
While mobile service providers may already have deep insights into their customer usage patterns, they may lack the tools to track, report and analyse these in a quantitatively disciplined way.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.