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Cost and knowledge biggest obstacles to African app development, says Google

Market confusion and the fact Africa has the highest mobile Internet cost worldwide are the greatest challenges for app development in Africa, says Paul Lee, Senior Product Manager at Google.

“The real issue now is people don’t understand value,” Paul Lee said at the Africa App forum at AfricaCom 2012 today (Wednesday).

Google’s research in Ghana and Kenya shows only one out of five people are aware of how much value for money they get in terms of data bundles versus cost.

The ignorance about value relationship between data and money is related to not knowing how much data it takes to visit different sites, view pictures or watch videos. Lee said there needs to be more transparency for technical applications.

Lee used the “Mighty Waterbottle Analogy” in comparing the value of bottled water in volume and price with that of water fountains selling by ounce. The comparison reveals the complexity of the calculation from the user’s point of view. Working out the better value for money is far too much effort for most consumers and thus they lose out on economic use. Most African users have to recharge daily.

Speaking exclusively to HumanIPO after the forum, Lee said: “The real solution lies in the market being more transparent.”

He encourages app developers aiming at the African market to develop differently from the global standards to suit African needs.

There are no current plans for approaching operators in Africa to decrease cost from Google’s side, said Lee. He explains the networking and partnership of both international and national parties should take on these challenges.

“Africa is where the growth is, no local network society can be without its local developers,” Lee told HumanIPO. He believes there are “huge opportunities” on a local basis in Africa.

Lee spoke at AfricaCom 2012 during the Africa App forum ‘Improving mobile Internet access for lower-income users in Sub Saharan Africa’ today (Wednesday).

Posted in: Internet

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