South Africa’s Homegrown Heroes Have an App for That

Published on: 12th Oct 2017

Talk of homegrown heroes in South Africa is usually focused on the sports field. However, with mobile innovation a significant contributor to economic growth, perhaps South Africa’s heroes are equally likely to have a mouse in their hand?

“The recent quarterly recession again highlighted the need for urgent job creation. Fortunately, there’s a strong correlation between economic growth and cellular usage and South Africa is rapidly closing in on the 40 million mobile users mark,” says James McNab of South Africa’s Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA). The GSM Association found that every doubling of mobile data use adds a solid 0.5 percentage points to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Mobile handsets are mere conduits of mobile data activity. You need the apps to make the magic happen and WASPA members have developed some outstanding examples of homegrown mobile creativity,” says McNab. Aside from boosting GDP growth and job creation, many local app developers have set their sights on solving some of South Africa’s most pressing socioeconomic challenges.

An informal survey by WASPA of its over 400 members during Heritage Month revealed some outstanding examples of local mobile innovation available on the Apple and Android app stores:

Members who responded included the developer of the aptly-named ‘Tawk2me’ which enables a person with a mobile following (dubbed a ‘Tawker’) to leave voicemails on the ‘Tawk2Me’ platform for their followers to listen to as a phone call. Local mobile innovation combines here with proven global technology as Tawkers can use the WhatsApp Voice Note feature to compose their personalised messages.

Iwin, an operating division of Globetom, for its part, has developed a native mobile app for Android Devices called “Iwin Bulk Messaging” which is available on the Google Play Store. This SA-developed bulk messaging app enables users to control their bulk messaging campaigns from their handset. While bulk SMS is not new, Iwin’s mobile-based bulk SMS functionality takes mobile text-based campaigns to a new level of convenience.

Another WASPA member, Pattern Matched Technologies, took health care via mobile to the next level with its Prior Mobile Health system. The Prior Mobile Health Voucher, an African first, allows people without medical cover to receive prepaid vouchers from their employers which are then redeemed at health care practitioners. Pattern Matched Technologies is currently a 2017 Engage Awards Finalist within the category ‘Best Use of Technology in Customer Engagement’ for software and app solutions.

The ‘Voicey’ mobile dating app from LuckyMobile takes care of mobile users’ health of a different kind. This really is a unique take on mobile dating that innovates by going back to voice-based basics. LuckyMobile is currently beta-testing Voicey for Android. It is available on the Play Store and has already developed a strong local user following who enjoy dialing in and listening to their potential love matches.

“App development is the current mobile frontier. Greater app uptake has been proven to positively impact every economic indicator critical to a developing economy and WASPA is working to encourage our local app developers in their important work,” concluded McNab.

A non-profit organisation, WASPA was founded in 2004 with the full support of Cell C, MTN and Vodacom. Encouraging greater mobile uptake while fostering consumer confidence in the mobile content and applications industry through responsible self-regulation is a key focus of WASPA.

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