The 4th Mobile Africa report [.PDF] produced by MobileMonday, released at the annual Innovation Africa Digital Summit, addresses the growing strength of mobile innovation practices in Africa.
also see: 2011.pdf – 2010.pdf – 2009.pdf
The focus of the Mobile Africa report this time is on the overall innovation ecosystem, which includes a range of stakeholders: industry, entrepreneurs, government, academia, civil society, donors and multilateral organisations. The report also addresses the crucial role of innovator networks and incubators. The material is drawn from interviews with over two dozen digital media experts as well as extensive research from news and market reports.
Sustainability of the innovation ecosystem requires the right blend of bottom up entrepreneurial energy and top-down facilitation of investment policies and infrastructure. These roles are played by global+local networks of mobile startups and professionals, such as MobileMonday. They are also augmented by industry-government-academic incubator networks such as the infoDev m:Labs.
The report identifies best practices and emerging directions for mobile innovation in Africa, and highlights the increasing profile of award winners from Africa in mobile excellence competitions in the region and globally. Overall shifts in the mobile industry are tracked in areas ranging from connectivity options and apps to operator dynamics and political impacts. The report ends with in-depth analysis of the emerging opportunities, challenges and recommendations for ensuring the growth of the mobile industry in Africa in a sustainable and inclusive manner.
The questionnaire and analysis used in this report is based on the author’s “8 Cs” framework of digital media, ie. the components of a digital ecosystem include connectivity, content, community, capacity, culture, cooperation, commerce and capital. In other words, holistic analysis of digital ecosystems should address not just connectivity devices and operator tariffs, but also localised content and services, payment options, knowledge-sharing culture, multi-stakeholder alliances, RoI models and human resource capacity in technology and socio-economic development.
This report, along with earlier annual Mobile Africa reports, will be useful and informative for innovators, incubators, policymakers, analysts and all those interested in the broader development processes and impacts of new media. The report also serves as a call to action and collaboration for other researchers interested in publishing regular insightful snapshots of mobile innovation dynamics in Africa.