Digital marketing opportunities in Africa

November 26, 2012

Over the weekend, a friend of mine asked me if digital marketing could finally take shape in Africa and other developing regions. My response was that, since the beginning of last year I have seen digital marketing move up to the next level especially in sub Saharan Africa. My expectation is that digital marketing will turn to digital commerce in Africa by creating more revenues in coming years.Compared to five years ago while I still working in Melbourne, digital disruption phenomenon has altered business patterns in ways I have never witnessed before. The changes have directly affected many businesses and service providers with Africa being one of the regions experiencing it. Also, industries and government agencies have not been spared either and those still mulling with the idea will have to prepare for it. Back in the days, digital marketing did not comprise of mobile apps for payments, there were no customized promotions or even mobile ads that are now synonymous with digital commerce in Africa today. In most sub Saharan Africa countries, mobile carriers have payments wallet that phone owners use to purchase goods and even make payments for bills like electricity and water among others.There is new a trend in sub Saharan Africa that now combines consumers’ experiences and making payments via mobile wallets common with network operators in the region.

Popular mobile wallets like MTN Mobile money and Safaricom M-Pesa are considered a turning point that underlined the necessity for African retailers and marketers to catch up with the digital marketing trends. Supermarket owners in Africa are now reported to be struggling in ensuring their outlets do not loose clients who can’t make payments of their goods via mobile wallets. This will provide a great opportunity for digital marketers.There has also been a rapid development in consumer behavior in Africa mostly with below 35 years age bracket. Those who want to remain in business must shape up or ship out. Mobile wallet growth has helped businesses in the region to increase opportunities and reach out to consumers in untapped rural markets, and has reduced financial risks and costs involved with cash payments. Bill payments can be done effortlessly with mobile wallets being offered almost all mobile carriers in the continent. These attractive innovations like M- Pesa have accelerated decision-making for purchases and made it easier for digital marketers to plan effective promotions that specifically targets that niche. Digital marketing has to an extent helped build mobile wallets brands and created awareness to the highly unbanked population in sub Saharan Africa.With more than 100 million users in Africa, mobile payments have opened a new marketing channels for businesses in the continent.

Contador Harrison