DEVELOPING markets, such as Namibia, have a strong culture of entrepreneurship, which has been boosted by the ubiquity of mobile technology, despite that fact that data remains a luxury, and often agonisingly out of reach for many.
Essentially, there is a digital divide in Namibia, between those with hi-tech connections and those without. For this reason, more impetus is needed in bridging this gap, as technology is now the bringer of economic prosperity in the region, and around the globe.
It is crucial to note that engagements, in areas such as banking, communication and brand awareness, are all dependent on mobile technology.
While many consumers want access to a service or content, some people with smart devices are hesitant about signing up to long-term or expensive data plans, because they don’t necessarily see the value that data will bring them.
This is a scenario that government and entrepreneurs should aim to change, in their push for a digitalised nation, which is driven by key technological innovations.
Indeed, rolling out services on mobile phones can be expensive for organisations, and if there is a smaller audience, companies will often pass these costs back to the consumer, which is clearly not an ideal solution in a low GDP country like Namibia.
One way other regional organisations are bridging this divide, between the need for data and the absence of it, is with a technology called Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). In essence, USSD is a protocol, built into all GSM devices, which allows network operators to communicate directly with handsets.
One standout thing one can spot from most current implementations of USSD in Africa is that it is being used to power simple content and service-based data requirements. To drive widespread use though, Namibia needs to look to systems that provide local content, sourced from the communities themselves, whilst also delivering services to the masses in a simple cost effective way.
Aside from the need for at least some level of connection, mobile has the potential to make a huge impact in both developed and emerging markets, where data isn’t readily available to all mobile users.
The technology has the capacity and ability to truly bridge the data inclusion divide globally, by transferring small packets of data through mobile.
Access to information will, in turn, present a catalyst for entrepreneurship and the development of new opportunities for economic growth. Leveraged correctly, USSD can play a vital role in addressing and reducing the data divide.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015