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The growth of digital and online marketing in Africa3 min read

Is Digital Marketing for Africa? How have businesses gained by marketing online?

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Growth of digital marketing

Innovative changes have over the years, proven to be a constant. Ways of doing things are changing globally at a rather fast pace; things that affect the way we live, the way we travel, study, do business, run homes and families, interact with others etc.

The influence of innovation is simply overwhelming! One sector that has been touched by the transformative wind of innovation is the business sector. In this article, we are going to evaluate the growth of digital marketing in Africa. Before we dissect the topic, let us first look at the meaning of digital marketing.

What is digital marketing? 

Wikipedia defines digital marketing as the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium. From the definition provided by Wikipedia, one may sum up the meaning of digital marketing as the use of technologies in marketing as opposed to the traditional ways of marketing we all know.

Before the digital era, marketing and advertisements were only done using traditional methods such as public announcements, newspaper, radio, television, billboards, posters and flyers. Digital marketing on the other hand employ methods such as social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), e-Commerce marketing, content marketing among other methods.

Advertising has been taken to a whole new level through the help of online marketing. Business owners, especially startups in Africa now save millions hitherto used in running newspaper advertisements and paying for sessions on television channels that expire after a short time. They now spend less than half of that amount to advertise on various digital platforms, which enjoy more audience than the traditional means, including television and newspapers. 

The state of online marketing in South Africa

 In South Africa, a study by World Wide Worx in collaboration with Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group found that as at the year 2010 the number of South African internet users have grown beyond 5 million. Ever since figures continued to advance upwardly.

By 2016 the number of internet users stood a little below 29 million. That was more than half of South Africa’s 52 million population. With that number of internet users, digital marketing will continue to grow in leaps and bound in South Africa.

Kenya and Digital Marketing

In Kenya, the story is pretty much the same as in South Africa. If you are familiar with Kenya’s marketing terrain, you will understand how big it has grown in a very short period.  Just a couple of years ago, expensive traditional methods of marketing still thrived in the country but today the story has changed as around 22% of all media consumption in Kenya is digital.

What is more, this number is growing fast! The German online portal, Statista reported that Internet advertising spending in Kenya is expected to grow from US$72 million in 2015 to US$151 million in 2020.

Digital marketing in Nigeria

Digital Marketing started to gather momentum in Nigeria around 2012 with the entry of e-commerce platforms such as Jumia and Konga in the country. The period between 2015 to 2019 saw a massive increase of Small & Medium Enterprises in the country with a population of 190 million people.

According to Statista, Nigeria had 92.3 million internet users in 2018 and it is projected to grow to 187.8 million internet users in 2023. This was 47.1 per cent of the population in 2018. It is expected to climb to 84.5 per cent in 2023. With 92.3 million people using the internet, the place of digital marketing in Nigeria’s business space has been secured. The prospect for the growth of digital marketing in Nigeria seems pretty good.

From the situation reports in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – three of the largest economies in Africa, digital marketing is growing really fast in the continent. The future of Businesses in Africa can now be viewed better through the lens of the digital.

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South African Airways cancels flights ahead of strike

Around 3,000 South African Airways workers are expected to take part in the open-ended strike starting Friday

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South African Airways cancels flights ahead of strike
A South African airways flight takes off as another one is parked in a bay on the tarmac at the Johannesburg O.R Tambo International airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gianluigi GUERCIA / AFP)

South African Airways (SAA) said Wednesday it was cancelling all its flights as thousands of workers vowed to press ahead with an indefinite strike the following day after the troubled national carrier announced a major retrenchment plan.

Around 3,000 workers, including cabin crew, check-in, ticket sales, technical and ground staff, are expected to take part in the open-ended strike starting Friday, their unions said.

The looming shutdown forced SAA to announce in a late-night statement on Wednesday that it “has cancelled nearly all its domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16”.

“The airline’s key objective is to minimise the impact of disruptions for its customers,” it said.

Unions earlier Wednesday vowed their members would forge ahead with the strike, which the state-owned airline warned could collapse the embattled carrier.

“We are embarking on the mother of all strikes,” Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi, president of the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) told a news conference in Johannesburg.

“We are grounding that airline on Friday,” said Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

The unions are pressing for a three-year guarantee of job security and an eight per cent across-the-board wage hike. 

‘Mother of all strikes’ –

Pilots — who are not taking part in the strike – have accepted a 5.9-per cent increase, they said.

The airline had announced on Monday a restructuring process that could affect 944 employees and “lead to job losses”.

The airline, which employs more than 5,000 workers, is one of the biggest in Africa, with a fleet of more than 50 aircraft providing dozens of domestic, regional and European flights each day.

Read: Africa World Airlines and South Africa Airways sign agreement

But the company is deep in debt, despite several government bailouts, and has not recorded a profit since 2011.

The unions blamed the SAA board and executive management for the airline’s crisis.

“They have deliberately destroyed what used to be one of the world’s best airlines, because of maladministration, rampant looting and corruption,” they said in a statement.

SAA Chief Executive Officer Zuks Ramasia warned that the strike would “exacerbate rather than ameliorate our problem” and urged the unions to make affordable demands.

“The unions and all employees should be mindful of the current financial constraints the company is facing,” she said in a statement.

She said the unions were aware that the airline’s financial woes were “caused by a number of factors, including a severely distressed global airline industry.”

This, she argued, had resulted in “numerous airlines retrenching staff, embarking on cost-reduction programmes, implementing wage freezes, reducing operations, or even closing down.”

The airline has been surviving off government bailouts. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced in February that the government would reimburse the company’s 9.2-billion-rand ($620-million) debt over the next three years.

South Africa is struggling to get its state-owned companies back on track after nine years of corruption and mismanagement under former president Jacob Zuma.

Analyst Daniel Silke warned in a tweet that the planned strike “may kill an airline already on its knees affecting the jobs of thousands more.”

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Algerians pushback against draft energy law

The bill is expected to be put to a vote on Thursday, roughly a month ahead of presidential elections

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A draft law on Algeria’s oil and gas sector has been met with hostility by an anti-regime protest movement that fears “the nation’s wealth” is being sold off to multinational companies.

But experts say the pushback from the streets is not entirely justified, seeing it rather as a symptom of the distrust that dogs any decision taken by authorities deemed “illegitimate” by opponents.

For nearly nine months Algeria – Africa’s third-largest oil producer and a top 10 global gas producer – has been swept by an unprecedented popular movement challenging a regime in place since independence from France in 1962.

The draft energy law, which has not been officially published, was sent to Algeria’s cabinet on October 14.

Since then, it has been added to the protesters’ list of grievances with the ruling class, seen by demonstrators as “thieves” that have “plundered” the country’s wealth.

“You sold the country, traitors,” demonstrators cried last week as lawmakers began discussing the draft law.

The bill is expected to be put to a vote on Thursday, roughly a month ahead of presidential elections also widely rejected by the street.

Many Algerians suspect those in power of handing over natural resources to foreign companies with the new law, having already “squandered” oil revenues, said El Mouhoub Mouhoud, economics professor at Paris-Dauphine University.

“These opinions are a testament to the current government’s lack of credibility in the eyes of the people.”

Nevertheless, Mouhoud told AFP, everything “suggests that in this new draft law, the mineral title (rights to underground resources) stays in the hands of the state, while exploitation and investment operations can be shared” more favourably than before for foreign investors.

‘Lack of legitimacy’

Francis Perrin, director of research at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS), said that while the text makes “adjustments” to the legislation, “the broad direction of Algerian policy on oil and gas is absolutely not called into question”.

The law will continue to guarantee that state-owned oil company Sonatrach has a majority stake in all projects involving foreign players.

It aims to “make the legislative and tax framework more attractive, simple and flexible, to draw more (foreign) investments in the oil and gas sector,” said Perrin, who is also a senior fellow at the Policy Center for the New South in Morocco.

The text reshapes taxation, notably with a fixed 30-per cent tax on profits and the elimination of a tax on windfall gains.

For Mouhoud, anger in the streets “has crystallised against the law” because of a perceived “lack of legitimacy of the current government”.

The cabinet was named by former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika two days before he resigned in April under pressure from the street, “rendering suspect everything that comes from it,” Mouhoud said.

“There is total suspicion of every bill.”

‘Politically risky’

In this volatile context, remarks made by Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab at the start of October on past discussions with five major oil companies on necessary legislative changes sparked a backlash.

Protesters took the consultations to mean that the draft law was dictated by big multinationals, despite Sonatrach insisting in September on the urgent need for new legislation to boost partnerships with foreign companies.

Since the adoption of the current law in 2005, oil and gas production has steadily declined, as has foreign companies’ interest in Algerian resources.

In the absence of partners, Sonatrach alone bears the risks and steep investments — amid low oil prices — in seeking new deposits.

At the same time, national consumption is on the rise, making exploration crucial.

Perrin said these factors “could lead to a deficit of gas supplies” by the next decade.

He said the authorities have become aware of the risk of “serious difficulties over time for the country”, as the sector represents 95 per cent of export revenue.

“That said, it is politically risky for a government deprived of the necessary legitimacy to tackle such a sensitive issue.”

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Zimbabwe target cash shortages with new banknotes and coins

New two- and five-dollar notes were disbursed by the central bank on Monday.

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Zimbabwe target cash shortages with new banknotes and coins

Zimbabweans began using new banknotes and coins Tuesday, as the nation’s central bank seeks to ease chronic shortages.

The Zimbabwean dollar is being gradually reintroduced, after a prolonged loss in value caused by decades of economic mismanagement that forced the country to rely on US dollars for a decade.

New two- and five-dollar notes were disbursed by the central bank on Monday. 

One Zimbabwean dollar is currently worth around six US cents.

“Bond” notes — a legal tender pegged to the US dollar — were introduced in 2016 to alleviate chronic cash shortages and ease a transition back to Zimbabwean dollars.

These were then supplemented with electronic RTGS dollars in June 2019.

But cash remains hard to come by, and most people use mobile money and now-banned foreign currencies to pay for goods.

Withdrawals remain capped at a maximum of 300 new Zimbabwean dollars ($18) per week per customer – which buys less than three kilogrammes of beef.

Account-holders wait long hours to draw cash.

In Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, bank customers remained sceptical.

“There is no difference,” Milton Mushangwe, 37, told AFP. “The withdrawal limits remain the same.”

“We are still getting the same small amount of 100 dollars or less,” added another customer, Richard Govha.

Zimbabwe’s reserve bank said that only 31 million new Zimbabwean dollars (less than $2 million) had been disbursed so far, of a planned total of one billion that is to be drip-fed into the system over the next six months.

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