Even though the Internet is available in Africa and it is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, many digital entrepreneurs struggle to make the most of this resource. There are many struggles in Africa generally which hinder the progress of the continent in the digital space, but I believe that with a very small mental shift, we can have globally disruptive technology emerging from Africa.
I want to share what I think are the main five reasons why tech entrepreneurs (software developers and digitally create people) fail to make it big from Africa to match the wonder stories like those from other parts of the world.
Inability to think globally.
I have spoken to many young people who are innovators in Zimbabwe, most of the ideas they have are to solve one or two local problems. In many cases, the innovators are trying to replicate an online monster like Facebook which is obviously domineering.
The publicly successful digital businesses in the world today focused on the bigger markets than their countries or continents. Today we live in a global village, we need to solve global problems with technology from Africa if we are going succeed.
Why we have become everyone’s primary producer and the final consumer is that we have failed to solve global problems from here. With technology and the Internet, it is easy for an African made SaaS or application to earn money from anywhere in the world. I am urging all African entrepreneurs think globally and start solving global problems from here.
Focusing on narrow markets.
The second problem which comes out of the first one is that tech entrepreneurs tend to focus on very narrow markets. The world has 7 billion people, Zimbabwe has 15 million people, while Africa is about a billion people.
Honestly, the population of Zimbabwe is negligible when looking at the world at large. Trying to dominate the local market doesn’t really work in the digital space. People are exposed to all options, (local & international) and they choose what they prefer.
In the digital world, even though people may identify with the innovator and the product as a local offering, they may not all end up using it. You are only going to get part of the market.
If you focus on an already small market, while you are going to get only part of it, you would have reduced the chances of making it big as a business. Let’s focus on the bigger market, regions, continents and the world at large. This will make African Tech Innovators very successful.
Failure to build irresistible products.
If you build a product that is not good enough on the market and hope to have customers because people are being pitiful, supportive or merely showing favour, that product cannot be a global success.
Honestly, some of the work presented in the market by my fellow tech entrepreneurs is not good enough when compared with the global offers. I know about the financial constraints and all the bad conditions we have here. I still believe excellence is something we need to embrace as African tech entrepreneurs. Our products must not be used out of pity but we must produce the best for the global market. With programming and other creative work, it’s not very expensive to produce the best there is.