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Mobile uptake opens up enterprise app opportunities in Africa

Vince Matinde | Dec. 22, 2014
With smartphone use in Africa skyrocketing, companies on the continent are taking heed and employing mobile enterprise applications to streamline business processes and mobilize their workforces.

Locally developed solutions such as ClinicCommunicator are becoming increasingly important for the improvement of local healthcare delivery services, according to Ian Clarke, a doctor who is chairman of the Uganda Healthcare Federation.

"Like many countries in East Africa, Uganda's fast growing economy is increasing demand for private sector health solutions and the professionalization of healthcare services," Clarke says. "Solutions like's patient engagement system ClinicCommunicator are playing an increasingly important role in improving the ability of patients to connect with their healthcare providers outside of the hospital setting."

But there are challenges of introducing software-as-a-service in this virgin market.

"Software-as-a-Service is new in many African markets; it can be a challenge for the market to shift from the custom software build, one-off payment model, to paying subscriptions (monthly or annual) to a vendor to use a technology, even if the price point ends up over the long term being cheaper than custom building software from scratch," Yelpaala said.

"We have found from our work that a strong focus on product usability is important," he added. "We see that in many cases the core challenges to adoption are related to tailoring solutions to user needs and not just technological bottlenecks. Additionally, we find it critical to continually generate user feedback and respond to that feedback quickly to gain momentum."

Lindsay Britz from Magic Software suggests that having a skilled workforce could increase the spread and use of enterprise mobile applications. "Often, developing multi-channel apps require multiple developers with specialized knowledge of the coding language of each operating system and device as well as best practices for mobile UI and UX issues," Britz said. In many cases acquiring such talent can be an uphill task.

Africa's young infrastructure also poses challenges to enterprise software solutions. "The major point of providing mobile enterprise apps is to empower employees, customers and partners to work when and where it's convenient, so they should be able to continue to work even if they lose internet connectivity," Britz adds.

But even so, the future for enterprise mobility and software as a service seems bright in the growing tech scene in Africa.

For, Africa is a great canvas to spread their solutions. "We aim to continue to find partners to utilize our product ClinicCommunicator and expand the product's reach in East and then West Africa," Yelpaala said. "We believe that decision support and analytics features are increasingly important to help our clients better manage their facilities and interactions with patients. We also expect that our platform can be utilized in other sectors, though our current focus is on the health sector."


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