We Believe We Can…
For some time now, at Aetherion, we have been bragging about our passionate will, as a startup, to actively contribute at closing the digital gap in Africa. But, how much of that objective can we hope to achieve, while profitably doing business in Africa? How can a Social Project be turned into a profitable business?
We actually believe that, these are goals we can reach, given the bright side of today’s African economic and technological profile. But we also understand that this might not happen overnight either…
With our Aetherion for Africa project, we are working at laying those fundamentals that will, one day, allow most of the 600 million rural Africans access the digital benefits of our modern world. That in mind, we got back to our drawing boards, focused on designing, from scratch, the most appropriate business ecosystems that would allow seamless integration of existing media management and hardware tech, while creating local jobs, digitally educating the masses and creating wealth for our stakeholders. We believe we found the key!
Aetherion for Africa is not about creating ONE groundbreaking app.
We focus on bringing together, elements of various technologies that can trigger interactions inside an innovative social-oriented business model.
Given the running technological evolution and the overall on-going revolution in the World of Internet access, we now have the necessary pieces and tools to start assembling the big puzzle. Big brands, with the likes of Facebook or Google, are inducing new concepts in the field of massive and affordable connectivity. Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft Azure are suggesting new user-friendly platforms that facilitate and curate affordable open-source data computing and database management processes. And African solar companies are healthily competing at devising close-to-free renewable energy solutions. While all this happens, one can reasonably expect costs to go down, and they surely will. In a relatively near future (in the next 10 years, we hope), we can envisage hardware and software prices to be set to their smallest expression, in the context of Africa’s global digital empowerment !
The African Context
Beyond the fact that, more than 600 million Africans live in rural areas where digital and information scarcity is a real brake to social empowerment and mobility, around 70% of the continental population seem to have no real notion of what the Internet is, and of what it can offer in terms of better life and sustainable development.
Thanks to Mobile, Africa’s Internet usage grew from a 4.5M user base in 2000 to today’s +360M, with a 51% growth over the last 5 years…
But there is an exceptional boom going on in Africa. The continent is on track for long-time global sustained economic growth along with an Internet usage that has been growing by a staggering 51% during the past 5 years. The latter increased from a 4,5M user base in 2000 to today’s +360M and this hyper-growth is mainly due to better access to growing broadband and to the explosion of the mobile hardware and software market.
Africa’s mobile segment is nowadays known to be the most prolific one on the planet, since it has become the preferred platform for the continent’s popular financial transactions and media sharing for more than 360 million people. In 2016, Facebook has more than 124 Million users in Africa, accounting more or less for 10% of the social media’s global daily usage. 80% of Africa’s Facebook user base operate from mobile.
But all these promising figures should not make us forget that rural Africa is no prime place for selling digital or for marketing apps to the basic consumer, even if this niche represents close to 70% of the continental market. For these reasons and for decades now, heavyweight players have never found this part of Africa commercially appealing. Urban arrays and other convergence areas have always been prefered. But things are about to change…
Rural Africa is, to our view, a place where one needs to primarily create relevant B2B economic and commercial ecosystems, that will first address main social issues before engaging in true commerce. It is all about sustainably empowering 700 million customers-to-be…
It needs to be understood that rural Africa is no prime place for selling digital or for marketing apps to the basic consumer, even if this niche represents close to 70% of the continental market.
We, at Aetherion, decided to pursue in that direction. We primarily designed our A4A project as a multifold and multilayer solution provider that puts crucial local community needs at the center of our business core. We identified several main planes of action like: Information, Education, Communication, Sustainability and Employment, amongst many others.
We took the challenge of developing an end product that would populate the most relevant solutions to all of these questions. But then we were like :
“Doing Good is good, but Doing Good won’t make us eat, this way!”
We finally and proudly came up with an A4A project that aimed first, at giving answers to Facebook 2015 report’s points of interest. We thus founded the bases of our solutions on:
Aetherion decided to build devices that would allow and relay Internet localized connectivty, anywhere (via 3G, Satellite Internet ISP, etc).
By building these devices ourselves, along with taking full advantage of Cloud technologies, we manage to keep our prices to their lowest expression. This is essential when we especially want no payment from rural africans.
We focus on localized content generation by deeply connecting with local companies and NGOs who already know the terrain. Entrusting local businesses with the mission of designing localized content for Rural Africa is a motivating challenge towards the wide adoption of ICT opportunities.
We trigger willingness by giving to rural Africans means to access content that are relevant to their needs in terms of information and education. We will also engage with local NGOs in order to setup pedagogical plans for small IT classrooms dedicated to the younger generations (our way to prepare the future).
Ambitious but thoroughly thought into…
Put together, the Aetherion for Africa project may seem ambitious because we plan to setup a Mission Control in Mauritius, connect (at term) 600 Million rural “freshmen” to the digital world, create 5000 jobs across 50 sub-saharan states and venture with at least 100 companies on Continental Africa, during the next 5 years. But we truly believe that, focusing first on the communities’ social needs is what is required, instead of devising any type of business model that would channel revenue from rural, often simple and resourceless people.
In any case, we will need your support…
At Aetherion, we deeply believe that the “Community First” strategy is one of the most relevant ways to start addressing the African Digital Gap issue. Making a profitable business out of this, will depend on our ability at making global change-makers converge to those places that need to be nurtured and seamlessly honed into the digital age.
In any case, we will need your support…