Hi Q-MHI Africa readers!
DESPERATELY SEEKING DATA
The Peter Drucker management aphorism, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” is a favorite of Yannick Lefang, the founder of Kasi Insight, an integrated marketing research firm which operates in seven African countries. You could say it’s the raison d’être for his four-year old company focused on developing African consumer data.
“Better understanding of consumer data will influence African governments’ policies, help us innovate, enter new markets and make informed decisions about our overall ecosystem,” says Lefang, a former banker originally from Cameroon.
Much has been written about the lack of up-to-date consumer data in African countries which will help dispel the supposed mystery of these markets for international and local investors. The expectation is increased availability of data will build trust and attract more investment capital more frequently.
A good share of the information used to explain African economies has been predominantly been top-down macroeconomic data, typically seen in the estimates and forecasts from major institutions like the World Bank, IMF and others. But such an approach has been lacking, say a new crop of research startups including Kasi Insight, mSurvey in Kenya and Opolox in Nigeria.
Alongside macroeconomic data, a bottom-up approach to understanding local consumers help give a more complete picture of how a country’s economy is developing and early warning signs when things start to go wrong. This is particularly important because many African economies are on average two-thirds informal so topline numbers miss out on plenty of vital insight.
Kenfield Griffith, founder of mSurvey, realized the mobile phone is one of few “formal economy” relationships for many ordinary Africans and saw it was as an important tool to better understand consumers in Kenya. His company has developed near real-time consumer feedback via SMS with over 20,000 respondents. “The mobile phone provides visibility into this market so we’re honing in on understanding the voice of the African consumer,” says Griffith.
MSurvey is not alone in believing the mobile is a great tool for consumer research. US firm, Geo Poll, one of the larger consumer research firms on the continent, also uses mobile to better understand customers. Others firms are placing more emphasis on understanding the data.
Soji Omisore is a former World Bank/IFC executive who’s familiar with the frustrations of trying to develop the kind of intimate market insights expected in developed markets so he founded Opolox to address the problem. “The ability to extract insights from data using analytics helps organizations make better decisions as opposed to the usual high-level macro and demographic data which doesn’t provide the granularity of insights in which organizations can have confidence.”
Yinka Adegoke, Q-MHI Africa editor
STORIES FROM THIS WEEK
The African elections democracy watchers are eyeing in 2017. This year, Rwanda, Kenya, Angola, and Liberia will hold general and presidential elections. The four elections will all include significant milestones for each of the countries, and indicative of where Africa’s electoral politics goes from here.
Is Nigeria’s acting president getting an easy ride? Nigeria’s acting president Yemi Osinbajo is receiving praise for introducing some reforms, mingling with traders, and for moving decisively on quelling Biafra breakaway tensions. But Yomi Kazeem argues it only shows Nigerians have very low expectations of their leaders.
China is in a diplomatic spat with Zambia. Zambian authorities arrested 31 Chinese citizens on suspicion of illegal copper mining—a charge Chinese officials claim the Zambians haven’t provided evidence of. But as Lily Kuo explains, the wrangle is part of a growing list of labor disputes since Chinese companies entered the country’s mining sector over a decade and a half ago.
South Africa’s fourth finance minister in two years is being dragged into scandal. South Africa’s finance minister, Malusi Gigaba, has spent the last two and a half months reassuring investors the economy’s in good hands. However as Lynsey Chutel reports, Gigaba is the latest person in president Zuma’s cabinet to find himself caught up in the scandalous web of corruption claims.
The skyscrapers and empty malls fueling Nairobi’s economic ambitions. By 2020, Nairobi will be home to The Pinnacle, a 300-meter twin-tower that will be the tallest in Africa. And while the government hopes the massive construction projects will boost employment opportunities, observers are warning that the investment spree will dent returns, writes Abdi Latif Dahir.
CHART OF THE WEEK
Kenya’s mobile internet is beats United States for speed. Kenya has proudly positioned itself as a leading hub of mobile technology in Africa and has built that claim on the expanding internet infrastructure investments by companies locally. It turns out its mobile internet speeds are among some of the faster speeds globally, ahead of the United States.
OTHER THINGS WE LIKED
Amid a crumbling mental health system, Ghanaians are giving prayer a chance. For generations, mentally ill Ghanaians have not had access to any treatment, and those who did were subjected to involuntary injections or electroconvulsive therapy without anesthesia. In Harper’s magazine, Brian Goldstone reports on how the crumbling psychiatric system has forced the mentally ill to seek help in prayer camps.
Bootleggers are the biggest profiteers of the booming Afrobeats music scene. Nigeria’s piracy problem is so ingrained that music thieves worry about rip-offs of their rip-offs, slapping warning labels on pirated CDs to insist that “lending is not allowed.” New York Times’ Dionne Searcey writes on the efforts to protect intellectual property, and to train judges about the artists’ rights.
KEEP AN EYE ON
The process of Helen Zille’s disciplinary hearing begins (June 13). The Federal Legal Commission of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance party will have all members sign a confidentiality agreement by June 13 to “protect the integrity of the hearing.” The hearing is for Western Cape Premier Helen Zille who appeared to defend the legacy of colonialism in a series of tweets in March.
Nigeria to sign 2017 budget into law. Nigeria will sign the record 7.44 trillion naira budget into law in an effort to pull Africa’s biggest economy out of its worst recession in 25 years. The budget, however, must be signed by the president to become law—even though he is on a medical leave in London.