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THE MEDIA NOV_2018 - TMOL

mobile africa Africa’s Truth: Mobile has created ‘NO-line’ marketing The term ‘no-line’ best describes the impact mobile has had on marketing and communications in Africa, by ALLEN KAMBUNI. I first interacted with the term ‘no-line’ a year back in an inflight magazine. I found it intriguing as it referenced the ubiquity of communication and messaging in what was a truly African context. Interestingly enough, I went on to interact with this no-line concept when I spent a night at the Mojo Hotel in Cape Town. Here, I found that different worlds no longer collide, as is the classical saying, but melt effortlessly into one another. Not only was I in a hotel, I was in a short stay parking, a farmer’s style market, a food court and a concert venue. There was no boundary between each of the amenities and it made for a pleasant and resplendent experience. I believe ‘no-line’ best describes the impact mobile has had on marketing and communications in Africa. In my white paper presented at the recent PAMRO conference in Nigeria, I concluded that digital in Africa is neither explorative nor exploitative. It’s what we eat, live and need to survive. The digital revolution in Africa is driven by mobile. According to the GSMA (a body representing the interests of mobile network operators worldwide), SIM connections are set to hit a penetration rate of 84% of Africa’s population by 2025. This is staggering considering the evolution of mobile-driven solutions to Africa’s fundamental problems. Here are some of the trends that I uncovered where mobile has either shaped or given insight to in Africa. Rural to urban transformation I would be remiss if I were to use the old coinage of rural to urban migration, as this does not fully capture this emerging trend in Africa. We are now starting to witness the transformation of traditionally rural settlements into bustling towns and cities. Urban transformation is also a trend in and of itself, as lowdensity residential areas in our capital cities have now become bustling commercial hubs. According to the World Bank, African cities are among the most disconnected, crowded and costly in the world. Traditionally social denizens, Africans now have 40% fewer neighbours to interact with compared to Latin America and Asia. These factors have led to a burgeoning mobile culture. Getting around African cities has become impossible, so mobile commerce has grown exponentially. Social media turnstiles are revolving in Africa as the youth turn to their mobile phones to interact with friends who are merely five miles, but two hours of traffic, away. Mobile in this context is not a novelty but reality. Employment to entrepreneurship There has been a much-maligned report doing the rounds that says Africa is unemployed. This is despite the fact that many African countries continue to report low unemployment rates. Much of this misreporting is down to an intriguing and thoughtprovoking term known as ‘under-employment’. This term is sometimes used to describe atypical ventures that do not fall into any ‘documented’ economic activity brackets. A recent survey by The Brookings Institution considers underemployment a problem serious enough to warrant greater attention, since it masks the reality in countries that post low unemployment rates. Africa has revolutionised ALL key sectors of its diverse economy. We don’t bank in traditional institutions, we bank on our mobile phones. In Kenya, there are over 120 000 M-Pesa agents serving the millions of Kenyans who bank through their mobile phones. Are the multitudes of people working here under-employed, in a country where the mobile money sector now accounts for the lion’s share of all banking transactions? The jury is out on that one. On a more serious note, the nineto five stable of employment simply does not exist anymore. This poses a challenge for the traditional marketer who would once upon a time rely on time slots to run prime advertisements. Thanks in no small part to entrepreneurship, African populations are out-of-home and in-home at totally random times of the day or night, leaving mobile as the primary means to understand their media consumption habits. More and more, we are merging mobile-based technologies with traditional media to better understand how and when our audience is consuming The Media | wagthedog.co.za P 35 Allen Kambuni


THE MEDIA NOV_2018 - TMOL
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