In the past 10 years, the technology world has been focusing a lot on web 2.0 or web 3.0 and a lot has been done in this regard which has led to the data foundations enabling machine learning and artificial intelligence. But no one seems to talk about the underlying blueprint that is at the center and enabler of all this buzz. Every viable tech company has been doing one important thing and that is building a platform. Platforms enable your product to keep having users, leverage for growth and recurrent revenue.

Take Facebook for example, they have systematically built a platform connecting 1.8 billion+ people, app developers, websites, huge data sets and they are milking the platform in various ways to generate billions per quarter.
The king of the platform era APPLE has effectively created a digital platform around their devices, stores and users which is now keeping users locked in and generating billions of dollars in value.

We can also talk about Google with their array of solutions (gmail, gmaps, android, search, photos, etc) all centered around Google accounts and their virtual platform with billions of users and a huge stack of data that leads to even more billions of dollars in value and huge success in artificial intelligence backed by the data collected via their platform.

From the above, its clear that to build a viable tech company, you need to understand the power of platforms and build around that. But Africa is not the west and you can’t copy and paste what Facebook, Apple or Google did and expect it to work. In the West the basic node or interface to the platform can be the users own device as they are more tech literate but in Africa it’s alot more than that.

Take MTN for example, they have build a platform around service centers and road side resellers. Although their underlying product is technology their platform extends beyond technology into physical centers and human nodes (road side callbox) all playing a huge part in their overall business.

Another notable example in the new era is irokotv, they have decided to recruit 200+ offline agents as the end nodes of their platform as depending solely on user devices as the end nodes to their platform alone won’t scale to desired results in the millions of users.

We can see same occurrences with canal+ sat, DSTV, etc.

My observation is that, for a technology business in Africa to scale to millions of users, depending solely on users being part of your platform via their devices only won’t scale, you have to build an off-line user interface and solution that enables them to get assistance onto your platform from time to time and this is the only sure way to scale to numbers like we see in the West.