VENTURES AFRICA – Towards late 2012 I had written a well received article on the most promising areas for tech based businesses in Africa for 2013. Today, many of the sectors predicted are definitely looking to be more exciting. As we fully step into what promises to be a year of innovation from Nigeria-focused internet companies, here are key sectors I believe will witness increased aggressive growth, competition and innovation.
This sector is certainly one of the most aggressive and vibrant at the moment. A flurry of e-commerce startups have emerged in the last one or two years as opportunities in the commerce and shopping industry became clearer. There are the general commerce and well funded companies like Konga, Jumia and others making it possible to order just about anything from the comfort of the home or office. The smaller ones such as Sunglasses and Glamour battle for space in specific distribution of niche products. Deals-based ecommerce sites are also not left behind.
With Nigeria’s logistics, transportation and infrastructural challenges, launching an e-commerce startup is not for the fainthearted nor the light pocketed. 2013 will be a year for even more innovative battles as e-commerce offerings expand outside Lagos to other parts of the country (one or two e-commerce companies already boast of outside Lagos delivery).
Online Entertainment Distribution
Music and Movies are two things that make a lot of impact in Nigeria and it was not long before digital distribution of music and movies became a major part of the technology business revolution in Nigeria. When iROKOtv got into real digital distribution of Nollywood movies it became clear just how much potential there was in digital distribution and licensing of Nigeria’s numerous music and movie productions. It was not long before entrants began to walk in. Music distribution is equally gaining more competition with the entrant of Deezers to compete with Spinlet and the more recent coming of Apple’s iTunes.
As seen in the west, recruiting and hiring has been radically changed from the traditional approaches of job boards and newspaper ads to more dynamic target-focused methods like social recruiting, search based recruiting etc. While most of Nigeria’s major employers and recruiters still use traditionally known means, the job industry will this year witness more changes and tend towards various mix of online recruitment processes.
The key players in online job advertising, candidate attraction/sourcing such as Jobberman, Ngcareers and the more niche focused ones like CareersNigeria are already pushing the boundaries on how jobs are advertised and how companies get from the vacancy stage to actually hiring the right candidates. Even the traditional recruiting agencies are turning to social and more pragmatic means of executing the recruitment process using platforms such as Linkedin, Smartrecruiters etc. No one can say for sure what the likely growth and innovations will be like but it is likely that unique solutions will continue to pop up for the Nigerian job industry.
Freelance/Work Collaboration/Outsourced Services
Putting up tasks to be handled remotely by a skilled person hundreds of kilometers away or work collaboration among workers separated by miles of distance is certainly a new idea for many Nigerians but as the year 2012 left on its final journey there was an indication that a few startups were already testing the waters of freelancing/work collaboration.
This very critical aspect of our national development continues to be hugely ‘undisrupted’ by the tech community. While the entertainment industry, e-commerce and a few others are finally seeing the emergence of a number of viable startup models, the education sector remains an untapped goldmine for tech startups to explore. Areas such as collaboration, research, electronic testing, e-learning etc are all glaringly open for disruptive ideas. The sector, from what I know, is set for several attempts from a couple of entrepreneurs and developers. Whether a viable solution comes up this year remains to be seen. However the battle to open up and develop Nigeria’s education sector through technology will get more aggressive in 2013.
It looks to be an exciting year for aggressive growth in tech-based business, and these sectors are where many of the battles will be fought.