Top 5 African Innovations - October 2017

This month's five game-changing innovations from across the continent!



... to this month's innovation roundup.

A collection of five of the most captivating innovations from (or for) 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?




BBC World Service

BBC launches Pidgin digital service

In August 2017, BBC World Service launched a new language service for digital platforms in English-based Pidgin for West and Central Africa. Providing a range of local, regional and international news, current affairs and analysis, BBC Pidgin will also cover culture, entertainment, science and technology, health and sport. Based in Lagos, the service will have a presence across all social media platforms.

A groundbreaking initiative from a global media institution...

Taking their localization further by providing translations into Pidgin.

The fact that such a formal, foreign corporation has adopted what is considered to be by many, an informal and simplified Creole-esque language – most widely used and commonly shared by many nationalities across the West and Central African region – is a progressive step in attempting to reverse the negative effects of colonization.

This is proof that there are still many things that global brands operating on the continent can do, to not only earn the respect of its targeted audience, but also to unify them by communicating in a broader, yet more culturally relevant manner.



Crowdsourced initiative connects stranded Kenyans with volunteer hosts

Following election-related violence in Kenya in August 2017, RescueBnB connected stranded Kenyans with volunteer hosts. Inspired by AirBnb, the website provides shelter and care packages to citizens in Kisumu. Individuals can also make donations via the site, with RescueBnB partnering with local distribution companies to deliver supplies where required.

Brands that are able to respond to crisis in a timely and relevant manner...

Will always be appreciated by consumers within the affected communities.

This example however, also shows that brand agility is even more impressive – and less patronizing – when it helps those in need by drawing from local resources too.

By providing a platform for locally-sourced emergency supplies, distributors, P2P connections and donations, RescueBnB demonstrates how technology as a facilitator can be even more powerful, than the costlier tangible high-technology solutions of the West.


First Bank Nigeria

Bank unveils employee promotions despite economic crisis

August 2017 saw Nigeria’s First Bank promote more than 3,000 staff members in recognition of their work and ‘strong performance in driving the Bank’s business’ – despite the economic downturn in the country. Lower and middle management staff were promoted to reward them for their customer service delivery. The bank has also unveiled new management programs to facilitate leadership building.

In a continent where the concept of GLASS BOX BRANDS...

Is yet to take hold in the consciousness of many African consumers.

By showing such empathy, this bank is leading by example and setting new benchmarks in today’s GLASS BOX BRANDS economy. Rather than being caught out, or reactive to its customers’ future, yet inevitable demands, this bank highlights how savvy brands can be proactive in anticipating and fulfilling impending expectations from its customers.

And with today’s perpetual transference of emerging consumer demands, African organizations must learn to jump on the right bandwagons, whilst learning all the crucial lessons of the brand casualties from outside the continent’s borders.



Albino doll is newest addition to toys range

South African dolls brand Malaville, by model Mala Bryan, announced a new addition to its range in September 2017 – an albino doll. Aiming to increase tolerance for the genetic condition, Alexa features the white hair which is typical of the condition. The launch of the doll coincided with Albino Awareness Month in South Africa.

Africans are not only tackling global issues surrounding race...

Post-colonial, tribalistic and even genetic hurdles continue to prevail and prevent unity.

Many citizens are becoming increasingly concerned with challenging domestic issues such as cultural taboos and negative stereotypes afflicting their local communities.

The launch of an albino doll range is a particularly strategic move from such a brand. It shows they understand that the normalization of people with such conditions begins with educating the young subliminally, and in a more entertaining manner.



Playlists highlights artists from US travel ban countries

In July 2017, Spotify launched a music initiative in protest against US President Donald Trump’s travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries. ‘I’m with the banned‘ features six artists from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Iran, on a series of playlists offering new music and original video content. A collaboration with American artists; the music focuses on themes of civil rights, freedom, war, personal grief, and identity.

This example presents a novel way in which non-African brands can take a stand...

For their beliefs, or against someone else's.

By staying true to their core offering: music – Spotify have cleverly yet inadvertently expressed disagreement, whilst allowing their audience access to music from artists hailing from the recently-banned countries.

Music, is widely-known as a ‘universal language‘ and attaining music discovery relevance – in today’s digital era – has become the main quest for music platforms globally. Thus this stance also encourages listeners to find more intriguing or deeper ways to connect with new music, based on shared values.



Now it's your turn!

By now, you must be inspired by these local insights.
Why not rally your team together to brainstorm ways in which you can apply these featured examples to your own markets?



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