Democratizing the African Marketplace
A notable characteristic of large IT ventures in Africa, particularly e-commerce, is a built-in (literally) class or socio-economic bias. This is not just ethical malpractice, it is bad business. The vast majority of Africans access the web on mobile devices. Less than 10% of Africans have a laptop computer while 90% have a mobile phone. Any application written primarily for a laptop computer is self-limiting and aimed at the top 10% of the population.
Moja is democratizing the African market by putting the emphasis on mobile technology. For many Africans, mobiles are not just a communication device but also the primary channel for getting online and a vital tool to access life-enhancing services.
Moja democratizes access to key services through its digitization of membership in large networks. Moja is built primarily as a native Android app and aimed squarely at the fast-growing smartphone market.
Mobile e-commerce apps exist in the African market but notably they are all afterthoughts with very limited functionality. Moja is turning this model on its head by reversing the order of priorities. Moja has built a revolutionary full-featured Android app, which will be followed by a web version, primarily targeted at international buyers who want to trade with Africa and African entrepreneurs who want to simplify data entry, followed by an iOS app.
This dramatically lowers the cost of access. With Moja, a variety of very powerful tools are reduced to the price of a smartphone, which can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of a laptop or desktop computer. This empowers ordinary people, not just elites.
The number of mobile internet subscribers in Africa has quadrupled since the start of this decade and the technology is the only available platform for the majority of Africa’s population to get online.
Smartphone adoption is increasing exponentially. The total number of smartphone connections stood at 250 million at the end of 2017, equivalent to a third of the total connections base. And the adoption rate will double by 2025 to reach two-thirds of total connections, equivalent to an installed base of around 690 million devices.
Moja is using a variety of strategies to make access affordable. Moja will be introducing its own smartphones at a significant discount and will offer many of its online features—those that require bandwidth—at no data cost to the end user. Wherever possible, Moja uses offline-first technology to optimize functionality where bandwidth is limited and expensive.
Rather than assume a one-size-fits-all Western model, and asking our users to adapt, we have built our platform to conform to African needs and patterns of use. Moja believes that any other approach is just another form of digital colonization.