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The Impact Of Super Apps In Africa

Technology changes very quickly! This is a  popular saying in the world of technology and this also applies to apps. Years ago, what was popular were straight-forward, single purpose apps that served its users; it became the trend such that we witnessed the unbundling of popular apps by giant tech companies.

Today, super apps are becoming popular today, particularly in Asia. These apps usually serve as a platform for a number of activities such as financial services, entertainment, ticket sales and lots more. These apps serve as a one-stop-shop to solving the problems of the upwardly mobile individuals, who relies on it for their daily activities.

A few days ago, India’s Paytm announced a Series G injection of $1bn in a bid to expand and scale further. This is coming a few weeks after another Africa-focused rising super app announced a $120m  funding to help it expand in Nigeria and across Africa. That announcement caused some excitement and fear within the ecosystem.

So, what exactly is a super app? It is an all-in-one multi-purpose mobile app that has aggregated services on one platform.

The uniqueness of super apps includes the integration of other apps and exciting experience that saves users ample time. Considering the potential impact of super apps on the African ecosystem, it is worthy to take a quick look at its effect on the other regions of the world where it has been extensively used.

For the past two decades, the generation of apps springing up has virtually been a single-purpose app. As the name implies, they are designed with an easy-to-navigate user interface, as well as solving just one main challenge for users. These apps were designed with architecture that is scalable enough for global expansion such that no changes would be required. However, in the last five years, China has produced super apps for its highly dense population, basically, leveraging technology to impact its ecosystem.

Coming down to the African continent, sometimes in October 2019, a Nigerian-based fintech platform launched a consumer-based platform for commerce, payments and other financial services all in one app.

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Unlike Asia, the term super app appears to be relatively new in this part of the world, however, the business model on which the super app will run has not quite worked in Europe and in the United States.

Africa, however, offers a perfect fit environment to make the business model above work. As service delivery on the continent tends to be more mobile-driven and customer-focused, super apps may take over the future in Africa’s digital economy, as will be discussed in subsequent paragraphs.

With the population of the continent, reaching over one billion, Africa appears to be the fastest developing market for consumers. Reports from Brookings Institution on Africa’s consumer market potential indicates that by 2025, the rate of consumer expenditure would have grown to $2.1tn.

We can, as well, draw some similarities, between Asia and Africa most importantly, a huge population growth with increased mobile adoption. Africa has a young population that has a high growth rate and is also willing to embrace new technologies.

According to GSMA, sub-Saharan Africa alone, will witness a growth of 440 million handsets, in the next eight years. With more handsets, comes more mobile app downloads and with the integration of many services, into one super app platform. The whole digital experience narrative is, about to take a chance.

For instance, in Nigeria, some mobile-based platforms offer services beyond payment from food delivery to transportation and other daily life’s essential. The platform has become Nigeria’s top super app. When the company launched its bike hailing service at a seemingly ridiculous giveaway price, the app saw an increase in download and when it now introduced its food delivery service, more users came on the platform.

Indications like this show that super apps in the long run can deliver the narrative of financial inclusion on the African continent, as well as increasing the connection of people with opportunities and places.

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Super apps would enable an average user, to experience the benefits, of social and financial inclusion, irrespective of status, or, physical boundaries. With more than 50 per cent of the continents’ population, still unbanked, the integrating function of super apps might just be the ignition needed to turn around the financial inclusion deficit on the continent.

In the last decade, mobile apps have taken over the mobile space and there have been apps, to execute anything you can almost think of. Users these days get bored with a single app that is limited to one service.

Based on the Silicon Valley model, apps were designed, to be of, “single-purpose-use”, however, considering Africa where there is a high proliferation of cheap smartphones having insufficient storage capacity, smartphone users have struggled, with deleting existing apps when they are about to install a new one to access a service like food delivery, lending service, or transport hailing.

Super apps integration platform has solved this challenge, as one app, can offer you multiple services. Leveraging Africa’s large population super apps may just likely disrupt the way users engage, with service providers on their smartphones.

Users would, gladly, come to terms, with platforms that can provide distinct interface, for the services they require. An ecosystem, where the users can monopolise their time, giving them the ability, to do away with varieties of apps. With an all-in-one app, tendencies for other merchants to show partnership interest increases.

The ability to carry out online shopping, hail rides, order food, communicate and execute activities on a one-stop smartphone app for the past five years has become Asia’s defining innovation.

Here’s my confession. I am not a big fan of super apps; in fact, I don’t use any as of date but that’s me. I may not be the true description of the target audience. Well, it is only a matter of time before we know what suits our ecosystem the most!

Source: Punch

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