Seven game-changing innovations from across the continent + spotter insights!


The buzz of new consumerism across the continent is undeniable.

It goes without saying that Africa is not a country. And yet disclaimers aside, there are some common threads that unite many of the markets across the continent. One of them being the excitement surrounding the plethora of new products, services and experiences being made available to Africans today. While many of these offerings may seem less novel to those in the West, one thing is certain, African consumers are lapping up these homegrown offerings made specifically for their market and consumption.

Our on-the-ground spotter network are encouraged to tap into this very phenomenon and provide us with a constant stream of information, when it comes to both new and ongoing innovations in their region.


And this month, we're showcasing content directly from our spotter network!

This Africa Trend Bulletin highlights seven of the most captivating innovations hailing from Africa, accompanied by localized insights from our experts on-the-ground.

Whilst perusing these innovations, it’s worth considering the following:

1. What are the fundamental human needs/wants/desires behind this innovation?

2. Why is this innovation relevant today in Africa and what are the key drivers?

3. What changes would you need to implement, in order to make this innovation applicable/valuable to your customers?



South African online 'unradio' station streams shows on WeChat

Launched in May 2014, is an online radio station spearheaded by popular South African radio DJ Gareth Cliff. The radio broadcaster, now free from the restrictions of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa, promises to be “uncensored, unhinged and unradio”. The interactive show can be accessed via multiple channels, and after an unprecedented partnership with WeChat, the show also streams on the instant messaging platform.

“Allowing listeners to catch up on content via WeChat/podcasts, makes radio a less fleeting, more ‘on demand’ medium. The fact that so many listeners have been willing to change listening habits to follow Gareth Cliff (the founder) indicates the need for this kind of platform, and how powerful these uncensored voices are in our society.”

Anneleigh Jacobsen (40) – Founder, The Brand Conservatory / South Africa

Easy Taxi & Dettol

Nigerian based taxi company and disinfectant brand partner to raise awareness about Ebola virus

As the Ebola virus reached its peak in West Africa in August 2014, transportation provider app Easy Taxi and hygiene brand Dettol, offered Nigerian taxi drivers training sessions on how to diagnose and prevent the spread of Ebola. Taxi drivers were encouraged to become agents of change and attend monthly meetings as part of the Ebola Awareness Campaign. Here they learnt about the symptoms and preventive measures, with the intention of improving public knowledge and educating their customers.

“It’s a great idea to effectively contain the Ebola spread in Nigeria, as a large number of Lagosians – a state with a population of over 15 million – use taxi services every day. This act paints a compelling picture of compassion to me, and Nigerian consumers are naturally attracted to brands that genuinely care about them.”

Emeka Obia (25) – Consultant, Headstart / Nigeria


App provides on-demand laundry service for Capetonians

Known as the ‘Uber for laundry’, Washr is a South African laundry service that promises to collect dirty clothes and return them clean within 24 hours. The online app allows users in Cape Town (and soon Johannesburg) to enter a convenient date and time to get their laundry done, and was launched to compete with the high proportion of local domestic workers in South Africa. Its ‘Washrs’ employees – who are also recruited via the app – are background checked, vetted and trained to ensure a premium, timely service and that clients’ clothing are treated with care.

“There is a real shift towards doing things online, quicker and easier, in South Africa. The ‘outsourcing’ of daily tasks to online platforms, is due to the increase in working individuals, single-parent households and more working women, with no time to do their regular household duties. Premium services like Washr will create an opening in the market for others to follow.”

Nicole Simons (28) – Marketing & PR Consultant / South Africa


Kenyan mobile platform provides crowdsourced, real-time transport information

Launched in Kenya, Ma3Route crowdsources transport information, matatu directions and traffic reports for drivers. Aimed at developing economies typically lacking timely traffic data, the online platform also allows Kenyans to filter traffic feeds, form ‘road teams’ with other users, and customise preferences based on regular routes. In addition, Ma3Route provides transport data and trend analysis to city planning and public transportation providers.

“Being able to make quick decisions to avoid traffic build-ups on my scheduled route is essential in Kenya. On this platform, citizens take responsibility for informing others, where governments traditionally should. It has also induced citizen policing, where subscribers turn into traffic marshals, post pictures of traffic offenders in real-time and identify stolen vehicles.”

David Paul Mavia (42) – Creative Sociocultural Critic, The Karios / Kenya

Nando's: Blue Light Brigade

South African fast food chain mocks government officials in controversial advert

In August 2014, South African fast food chain, Nando’s launched their Blue Light Brigade campaign. The controversial ad depicts the unlikely scenario of government officials clashing at an intersection, resulting in a stand-off between their security police escorts (blue light brigades). The comedic scene set within the ad reflects and parodies real life events, with the intention of sparking debate amongst South Africans about issues surrounding government ministers and corruption.

“The trend touches on South Africa’s increasing sensitivity to crime, corruption and disappointment in our leadership. However, there is still the need to stay up-to-date with local news. The combination has created a growing demand to consume bite-sized pieces of socio-political content humorously, to take the sting out of growing discontent for the South African reality.”

Jessica Comninos (27) – Head of Research & Analytics, SMG / South Africa


Zimbabwean startup facilitates citizen conversations on weekly Twitter show

263Chat initially launched in late 2012 as a Twitter handle “discussing Zimbabwean national issues by Zimbabweans” on a weekly basis via the social networking platform. Today, 236Chat also broadcasts live events and panel discussions on other social media platforms, and with almost 40,000 tweets and 30,000 followers on Twitter, the highly influential startup is renowned for tackling the most pressing issues regarding its citizens and those in the diaspora.

“263Chat is already connecting thousands of Zimbabweans and encouraging debate on important social issues. Being aware of freedom of speech issues in Zimbabwe, 263Chat understands that more open and fearless conversations can take place on social media. It’s also extremely useful for the diaspora – as local information, let alone national dialogue, is usually difficult to access for those living elsewhere.”

Nick Monro (28) – Project Officer, Magamba Network / Zimbabwe

Guinness Nigeria: Orijin

Brewery launches premium alcoholic beverage made from local Nigerian ingredients

Launched by Guinness Nigeria in Lagos in April 2014, Orijin is a premium alcoholic beverage. Orijin is made from the typically bittersweet local herbs and fruits traditionally used in West African herbal alcoholic remedies. The beverage is bottled in contemporary and premium style packaging, remixing traditional Nigerian culture. It is also significantly more expensive than other local herbal drinks, in order to reflect today’s wealthier African drinker.

“Orijin has the medicinal properties of traditional herbal alcoholic drinks, but has the added advantage of being well-refined and so worthy of consideration by Nigerian elites. Orijin is also lower in alcohol (30% versus 42% upwards of traditional competitors), making it more acceptable to CEOs at dinner parties, who still want the ‘buzz’ of a traditional African drink, but not the intense intoxicating effects.”

Leke Jaiyeoba (28) – Business Analyst, Globacom / Nigeria



Now it's your turn!

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