No one will escape “convenient” marketplaces

March 2, 2015

There’s no need for experts to tell us that the digital economy has become prevalent.Data from all research conducted point that we will be doing more online transactions than ever before.Think of the what we shall be paying from and list is endless from Music, Movies, books, business stocks, sports betting.More have been in digital form for years like books and music, but due to advancement in technology, quality and security are improving all the time, attracting more and more consumers into what has been dubbed “convenient” marketplaces. Organizations and entrepreneurs are reinventing their IT departments. The phenomenon is here to stay for those who wishes to see it go, so there’s no point arguing about digital economy.If the digital economy enables firms to cut costs, consumers must benefit in the same way. It doesn’t make economic sense for private firms to be spending less when the consumers face the same or even larger costs. Everyday, new online applications meant to facilitate purchases of digital goods are introduced.Studies in Australia and northern Europe have shown that those of us holding a “smart” gadget in their hands can escape being a part of the new economic order.

Those of us who believe in the new era know very well about the pros and even though cons are less appreciated, the trend looks unstoppable. The digital economy reduces production and distribution costs and gives customers faster and often cheaper services. Regardless of where people live in Africa, they are increasingly going online and using the internet more frequently.Use of the internet via mobile phones has seen the biggest increase across Africa, with mobile phone internet services typically being used as a complementary service to office and even home internet connections.Across Sub Saharan region, Africans are diversifying their online activities, with the number and nature of activities performed online increasing and diversifying. This diversification is being led in particular by growth in two areas of activity ‘entertainment’, in countries like Nigeria and South Africa and ‘blogging and online communities’ in countries like Egypt and Kenya. Streaming has been the most prominent development in online ‘entertainment’ activities, with the number of Africans who directly stream content overtaking those downloading content.

While Africans are embracing the digital economy regardless of where they live, disparities in participation levels still exist. Internet users in major urban areas are only slightly behind those in major capital cities like Abuja, Cairo, Nairobi, Lusaka in terms of levels of internet connectivity and frequency of internet use but equal in terms of intensity of online participation. Studies have shown that while the proportion of people with a home broadband connection has grown significantly in areas outside major capital cities and major urban locations, these internet users are still trailing those in major capital cities in terms of frequency and intensity of online participation.The “piracy” perceived by the financially well off is an opportunity to the less privileged. Digital goods are not only easier to copy, they are also easier to market. Political corruption and corporate crime employing the digital economy can be harder to detect. Money laundering, already sophisticated and hard to spot, will become more complex and even harder to track.The biggest challenge facing most African countries are the inadequate regulations and copyright control which are sinking local product’s value in the blink of an eye. Already the entertainment industry is getting hammered by copyright infringement.In countries like Kenya and Uganda, creative industry stakeholders have been cannibalized by the crime. Digital economy will largely be driven by businesses and smart-gadgets users adapting to the new economic order which taking place.

Contador Harrison