Do you need an App for your African business?

App development is quite expensive, no matter where in the world you are situated. There are two different ways to build an app and each method should be chosen for the needs of the business. Also, you should note that not all businesses need app development, some will suffice to have a website that is optimised for mobile use. For the African context, 90% of users access content through a mobile device, therefor, having your online presence available for mobile access can be a huge advantage. Let’s have a look at the pro’s and con’s of having a mobile app.

There are two types of app development: native and hybrid.

Native apps can only be built from an Apple Mac device, the developer needs to have a licence which he pays to hold in order to build for iOS and there are regulations required before approving the app to be listed on the Apple Store. Also, all iStore registered apps have a 30:70 revenue sharing agreement, meaning for every 100 dollars made from the app, the iStore keeps 30 dollars. For this reason, native apps, which are the apps you see on the iStore are more costly to build and take more time with the approval and registration processing.

Hybrid apps can be built from a laptop or desktop that has certain processing specifications and the app can only be converted on any platform other than iStore (so for Symbian and Google Playstore). There is a once off registration fee for each developer and also a 30:70 revenue sharing agreement with the Playstore. Thus, hybrid apps are typically cheaper and can sometimes take less time to develop.

If hybrid apps are cheaper and can be built in less time with fewer registration constraints, why isn’t every African entrepreneur or business building hybrid apps for Playstore?

Another practical difference is that native built apps perform better than hydrid built apps.  Below are the statistics for Play Store apps. 60% of apps developed and available on the Play Store have never been downloaded. Of the ones which have been downloaded, 20% have only been used once. 95% of all apps developed for Play Store are abandoned within one month. 6% of the apps available are actually monetized and bring in measured in-ap purchase value


iStore apps perform better generally since there is also the push to update all apps with newer versions of iOS. Although your market will be smaller in Africa for native built apps, there is typically a higher rate of monetization from iStore apps.

Another factor to consider is which device your customer base is using, globally we see a trend of iOS having a similar market share over the years 2009-2016 but with other players falling out such as Blackberry and Symbian, Android seems to have cannabalised all of the others to be the global leader in smart phone operating systems with a market share of 85.2% in 2016 and 13.8% going to iOS. If you do the maths there, that adds up to 99% of the market held between Android and iOS


What do the stats in Africa look like? Well in Africa, we still see some presence of Blackberry and Symbian use. Although this is also dwindling, it’s worth noting that even in 2016, the operator most used in Africa after Android is Blackberry


Africans mobile device use is as per the following:


Should you choose to develop an app in either way, hybrid or native, you need to consider the aim of the app development for your business. You can develop a great app, on a market relevant platform, but do your customers know the app exists and is available for download (you need a digital marketing stategy to get the word out), does your audience understand the function and need for the app (you need a digital marketing strategy to let your audience know about the functions of the app), will your app monetize to bring in new sales or new customers to your brand (you need… you guessed it… a digital marketing strategy to convert sales from the app). If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency specialised with African online development, have a look at NubiaNetwork

And truth be told, not every business needs an app. When does your business truly need an app? When the audience is engaging every day: for updates, products, new services, geo-tracking. When does your business not need an app? When your content is mostly static, there aren’t regular changes coming in from the user or the platform itself.

As an example, you have a Pastry Store in Cape Town; you produce lovely cakes, biscuits and jams. Most of your customers come to your store over the weekend or place orders online for special occassions when needed. Your cake and biscuits menu does not change weekly or daily so any new updates can be communicated through social media or the website. Having a good online presence optimised for mobile use and strong social media presence should suffice with the PR of the brand.

However, if you have a mobile pastry delivery service all over the city, your customer wants to know immediately if their order is processed, when the goods will be ready and when you are on the way with their product. For this you will need geo-tracking and a function to interact with the customer in short response times at any time they send through a request. In this case it makes sense to have an app, for your customer to receive the quick on hand service and for you to communicate effectively, you require functions such as the geo-tracking without having to manually check all the time.

It is highly advised in all cases when you have online communication into an African market, that you ensure all your content is optimised for mobile. If you choose not to have an app, your website and social media content needs to be designed in such as way that it reads well on a mobile device. If you need any assistance with this, contact NubiaNetwork

Pardon me for the afternoon, I just heard the doorbell ringing, I think it’s my mobile red velvet cake delivery

2 thoughts on “Do you need an App for your African business?

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    1. Hi Kent, thanks for the comment on quality.
      Is there anything specific you’re looking for in terms of online articles, let me know and I will forward you the industry blogs/links to info available.
      Contact me on email or follow our page on Facebook for regular posts and articles


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