The development of the Internet has created a growing wave of innovation with the emergence of a number of digital entrepreneurs and an even greater demand for skilled ICT professionals, particularly software and web developers.
This trend is evident in Africa, as seen through the rapid growth and development of the Internet, mobile and smartphone operating systems.
An interesting factor to consider is which device operating systems and application development platforms will have the largest market share in Africa?
Currently, Android is by all accounts leading, while I/OS is the most economically active (by market value I/OS has higher transaction value).
With this in mind, and in order to effectively reach a greater audience; the business model of native apps versus web-based apps is going to determine who the winner is in Africa.
We need to be careful of how we look at this by not comparing the affluent standards or those with electricity or the capacity to power sophisticated smart phones (remembering that many African regions have a shortage of reliable power) with those who don’t have this capacity or means.
There is a school of thought that argues that an open web based application development will ultimately prevail. Closed eco-systems have not succeeded in the past, and will not in future. The PC environment (which only managed to maintain a paltry 3% penetration in the MEA region in 2013) is a recent example of this.
The critical question then becomes – what will be the most open, and affordable platform, that takes into account uniquely African factors?
Perhaps we need to engage with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to create a training platform for Africa in order for us to build applications using HTML 5, mob-sites and web apps?
One thing is for sure, Africa needs to create communities of interest in the area of mobile development platforms. That is the only way that the continent will be able to build the necessary ICT skills and create economies of scale.
Feel free to email me your thoughts or leave comments on the section below.