Africa: Survey Looks At the State of Transition to Digital Playbook By MNOs in Africa and Middle East - Lack of Clear Roadmaps and Progress

London — A survey of MNOs in Africa and the Middle East (which includes North Africa) carried out by Upstream Technologies - although a self-interested party as a vendor - sheds an interesting light on the distance between the rhetoric about digital transformation and the actual implementation of digital playbooks in the MNOs. Russell Southwood runs the number and looks at how fast things are happening on the continent.

82% of companies talked to said that Covid-19 would "significantly expedite our digital transformation journey. However only 27% had developed a business case or roadmap for a digital strategy. Just over half (55%) had created a change management strategy but as the results below show progress made is not yet decisive.

Neither were the different elements of that strategy in place yet. Only 27% had developed a data security/protection strategy for the company and its users and only 27% had created a data management strategy. Only 36% had shifted from physical to digital sales channels and less than half (45%) had increased the digital sales offerings (products/services sold digitally).

Survey respondents were asked to what extent they expected their company's investment in digital sales solutions to increase: 64% said by 10-12%, 18% by 10%, 9% it would remain the same and a further 9% were unclear or not sure.

The table below shows the different ways that the benefits of digital transformation are understood:

What are the top 3 benefits of transforming your organization into a digital business? See table.

So here's the friction that's holding back digital transformation perfectly expressed. The biggest benefits are seen as reducing costs and improving customer experience. Obviously there are many ways in which automation improves costs but a key one is self-servicing. According to the GSMA, around 50% of subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa had a smartphone at the end of 2019. But the ownership of said "shiny object" and actual changes in behaviour are much slower. Last year one of the continent's major operators issued a trumpeting announcement about self-service. Would it talk about? No, it would not. Everybody talks when the numbers are good but stays silent when they are not.

The table below is really the "money shot": the Sub-Saharan MNOs will almost certainly be in the lower tier of these responses:

Well dear reader, I can hear you saying that this digital 'thingy' has not been round for very long and 'this is Africa'. Yes, yes but these are some of your highest value customers who actually have money to spend. Maybe cutting costs is always tougher in African MNOs than finding new revenues? If African MNOs simply shuffle into the digital future, they will always find it hard to make the transition.

In Brief

After the creation of the WIC Capital investment fund, the Women's Investment Club Senegal (WIC) is launching WIC Académie, the first technical support structure for women entrepreneurs:

Algeria's telecoms minister Brahim Boumzar has stated that 5G development is not an immediate national priority, as the government is instead focused on improving 4G mobile services for the population, peaking in a radio interview on 14 March, reported by Agence Ecofin. He described 4G provision in the country as poor.

Gokada has appointed Nikhil Goel as its new CEO. Goel's transition to CEO is a natural progression as he has been responsible for leading the company since Gokada tragically lost its founder, Fahim Saleh, in July 2020. In the past 12-months, Goel has helped Gokada increase its revenue by 10X and grow its delivery order volume by 100X, enabling the company to reach profitability.

In March 2021, Kabakoo Academies launched the first no-code training in West Africa, confirming once again its leading role in tech education on the continent. Kabakoo is a no-code pioneer, the first EdTech in Africa to join this growing digital trend enabling people to design and deploy apps without coding. Dedicated to youth employment and entrepreneurship, Kabakoo bets on no-code skills to allow its learners to succeed on the local job markets. A bold approach that earned Kabakoo funding from Zoom via its EdInnovation Award:

Digital fintech enablement provider, Ukheshe Technologies, together with Infobip, a global cloud communications platform that enables businesses to build connected customer experiences across all stages of the customer journey at scale, have developed South Africa's very first WhatsApp payment gateway for use by Telkom, one of the country's largest mobile operators.

MTN Nigeria has acquired 10MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz band from Intercellular Nigeria (InterC Network). The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has approved the transaction and has already assigned the frequencies to the mobile market leader. MTN said the acquisition will significantly improve customer experience, in line with its commitment to deliver excellent service quality to its subscribers.

NuRAN Wireless has announced that further to its previously disclosed Network as a Service (NAAS) contract with Orange Cameroon announced in October 2020, Orange has exercised its option to add an additional 120 networking sites in the country. Following execution of the option by Orange, the overall total sites to be built over the term of the agreement has increased from 122 to 242.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.