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Technology

News can be the foundation of an African super App

Many platforms that have managed to achieve
Many platforms that have managed to achieve decent traction have laid out strategies to consolidate their users spend of both time and wallet. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The quest for the super app is on across the globe. A super app is one that bundles many services together, often starting with one core offering, moving to the complementary and extending to the fringe uses.

Many platforms that have managed to achieve decent traction have laid out strategies to consolidate their users spend of both time and wallet. Large homogeneous markets like Asia and India are seeing the first movers into this moat of consolidation with the likes of China’s WeChat, Indonesia’s Go Jek and Grab, India’s Paytm’s paving the way in their indigenous markets and other international players like TrueCaller and Amazon taking note and making forays.

Africa remains a tough market to crack, given the many physical barriers that exist compounded by language, currency and leadership differences. However, I am of the opinion that news as a core service has the potential to seed Africa’s first super app. I find it curious that not many media houses have applied themselves towards this given their traditional reach but dwindling revenues from advertising and subscriptions. Digital ad spend still pales in comparison to tv, radio, print and outdoor, but the shift is happening. Media houses would in this light be best advised to capitalise on the audiences that they command now to grow into other segments that their readers and listeners patronise.

Opera News, a content curation app by Norwegian browser developer Opera Software, paints a picture of what could, will and is happening. With an impressive African footprint currently at 50 million users, they employ machine learning to drive a deeply personalised content experience that keeps audiences coming back. These content items already exist, but the creation of a digital fireplace simplifies the experience and it is only a matter of time, whether directly or through an API ecosystem that will empower third parties to add value that we will begin to see complementary services

The long tail of news consumption opens up the possibility to serve large segments of a market and still address and give access to the niche. Working with strong partners then allows for value to be built atop these segments and the orchestrator of it all, operating as a true platform drives ultimate utility.

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