Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why Social Networks / Media Sites Cannot Get to Millions of Users in Africa [ part 2 ]

I wanted to continue "why web 2.0 ventures are not making it big in africa", so I decided to drop this post. Please read on ...

There are soo many issues why a social network/media site cannot get to millions in Africa as a whole, although the number of internet users in Africa is up to 50+ million.

[Challenge: can your venture make an African who is not interested in the internet use the internet ?]

- How many Africans have access to internet at home ( luxury )?

- How many langauges do we have here in Africa ( minimum two : internationalisation starts from day one )

- How cheap is it for our users to go to the cyber everyday just to have fun on a soo called social network where they do not make any thing out of it ?

- Are the Ventures (web 2.0 sites ) having the right networks ( business , marketing, HR, IT ) to handle such growths to millions of users, and do they have the "big problem" Venture Capital ?

- How many Africans know the importance of the internet or how to use computers not to talk of your soo called social media site ?

If you are in Silicon Valley and you have a crazy idea like, it can explode within two years but if you are in West Africa, who is ready to invest into a "war torn zone" ( as they address us ), thinking that when a war breaks all their servers will be turned to dust ??
But I think if you offer Africans a place to meet people to better their lives( jobs, marriage, career networking ) just like what we are working on with ( still a work in progress ) or what FEE is putting forth ( classified ads - jobs 100% important to unemployed Africans) , they will come there and also tell their friends, and with time you might get the VCs coming or you might get the traffic to make some money out of.
More to that:
If I was unemployed I bet you I will visit everyday to see what opportunities God has for me somewhere in Cameroon or Africa.

My Proposed Solutioins:

- African web entrepreneurs should take some time to study software engineering and the business behind it. Remember this process will take you about two years before you can be able to build a good solution. Go to school or hit the browser to, most of us started from there

- Before starting a web 2.0 site, look at Africa, see what they value and what they dont value, what they have and what they can afford, dont build your site because its a social network, but build your solution because it has value to give to the average African no matter his poverty. Africans dont have money and they pay to access the internet, if you want them to use your site, then it should be something worth the small pocket money they have.

- Ensure that you make a bilingual solution ( kudos, so that most Africans can use the solution from day one.

- Market your solution via TV, Radio, Magazins, Blogs ( pay for the marketing ) else you wont get those users. Here in Africa, we watch TV, and listen to Radio and if you tell us something on Air, we will see it. You can hit MNET African Magic, and some other stuffs like Canal + horizon.
In business if you dont pay in something you wont make anything ( correct me if I am wrong ).
But if you count on online marketing: Abi we are not in Yankee (USA), and we dont want only tech savvy guys in Africa using our ventures

- While growing your web venture indulge into something else that will give you money for the time being else you will give up. You can get a regular job, which is not the best because its bad for the growth of your venture but good for the money. You can offer other services to firms in your area like build websites and softwares ( good one but very much strainous to your team), then get part of the money and experience and contacts as positive effects to your venture.

- I have realised that most internet users in Africa are mostly tech savy guys who work in the IT industry, but the guys who dont work in the IT industry need to use our sites too. Do something that can convert the non internet user in African to become an Internet user on your site [ VERY VERY BIG CHALLENGE ]

Web Gurus of Africa this is what I want you to remember:
online ventures need patience started in 2005 but its getting 200,000 users in 2008,
Facebook started in 2003 and it became big in 2007,
Google started in 1999 and it became big in 2003,
Myspace (2003 - 2006 ).
Blogger started in 1999 and Google bought them in 2005.
So don't expect to start today and in a year you get 20 million users, but you should expect a Geometric Progression kind of thing.
like Facebook was with 15 million users in 2007 and it converted that figure to 70million users in 2008. but it took them 2003 - 2007 to get 15 million users.
I think I have exhausted all the reasons why web ventures don't grow that big in our continent.


fee said...

Thanks Mambe, for pointing out some of the strong points of . There are some things we are already prepared to face here at Kerawa.
First that it might take time. We are patient enough.
Second that cash will not start flowing from day one. We have regular jobs. Though this reduces the time spent working on, it at least allows us not to depend on revenue sources like Adsense or venture capitalists. You might probably never see neither banners nor adsense ads on
Thirdly, we might not know in advance what our users want. So we let them decide. We study what they participate most in, and adapt our product accordingly.

We want to create something of value. We know our environment, and how to transform our disadvantages into advantages. We have all the time in the world to satisfy our present users, correct our mistakes and move forward.

Don't forget to kerawise your stuff.

mambenanje said...

thanks FEE, I knew you would have something to add so that our African entrepreneurs can learn from your experience at

Maggie said...

hello Mambe,

im a girl from Seychelles. i know i am not responding to what u say but i dont; know how to be in touch with you.

i have the same surname as you and my name is Maggie.i would like to be a friend.

if u do get my message write me on :

it would be great to hear from you.