By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
Young, tech-savvy Africans are increasingly turning to the Net for information but unfortunately the content which exists is barely useful or relevant to their contexts. More often than not, the Net is terribly frustrating because of lack of information.
Despite the fact that the number of people who have access to broadband Internet connections is skyrocketing due to the introduction of fibre optic across the continent, content is largely missing. In many African online markets, there is a dearth of credible, up-to-date local content.
More and cheaper bandwidth, combined with cheaper and increasingly versatile mobile devices have not been completed by a versatile online ecosystem targeted at African consumers.
Poorly financed digital publishers rely on outdated content models, and there are limited local platforms available for the larger community to discover relevant content. In a word, there is poor access to hyper-local information.
Making the Net matter in Africa will recover deliver relevant local content via world class platforms that are easily accessible, and more importantly, available on mobile.
Such platforms have the potential to provide both insight into and access to the nascent online markets and audiences in Africa. That knowledge is very key in informing future strategy and rollout to make the Net more effective in Africa.
If the internet is to become of any relevance in Africa, there has to be a stronger focus on content. It is content that will bring a difference to areas such as elearning, ehealth, ecommerce, egovernance among others.
Access to information is a critical element to the development of the continent. Hyper-local, super relevant content is key to building the local wide web in Africa. Key to this is developing a working model that can be customized in different country and local contexts across the continent.
Social, Local, Mobile (SoLoMo): that’s the way forward for making the internet matter in Africa. A combination of socially discoverable media, local searches and mobile devices is key to monetizing the internet in Africa. To be specific, SoLoMo means that visual, concise, and contextually relevant content needs to underpin content strategy in Africa. As smarter mobile device usage proliferates on the continent, users will expect to access information that they can use to improve their lives and livelihoods.
At the end of the day, succeeding in the African online environment is about ensuring convenience, simplicity and proximixty for online users. Local content needs originators with motivation and innovative minds to create, adapt or exchange it.