Travelling through Africa, or any other continent for that matter, is supposed to be a pleasurable experience. However, without access to relevant and accurate information, the experience can be rather troublesome and expensive.
IT News Africa has listed some of the most useful and informative business traveller apps to make your next trip in Africa a successful one. As an added bonus, the applications mentioned will also benefit the average tourist.
Strictly speaking not an app, but no business traveller should be jetting around the world without some quality reading material. According to its website, it is a “one stop site offering a wealth of information that is essential to those travelling, or planning a business trip to an African city.” The magazine can be read online or downloaded for offline reading, and includes information on hotels, car rental companies, airlines, conference venues and visa requirements. “Africa is thriving and more companies are sending representatives into various parts of the continent to conclude business deals and expand their companies. To date there has been a real shortage of useful information about travel products and services in every African country,” they state. The magazine is available in iPad format.
Mocality is Kenya’s largest business directory, and now also supports businesses in Nigeria. The app allows users to find relevant local businesses in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret and Nyeri, with more cities being added every month. Users are provided with locations and relevant contact information, as well as products and services. The app sports a clean design and loads rather quickly, which is important for the fast-paced world of commerce. The app is incredibly small in size, with the download totalling only 320k, but it has been downloaded onto Android devices almost 10 000 times.
Business travel between Kenya and South Africa is booming. For that reason Kenya Tourism developed Android and iOS apps to help travellers to the country. While the Tourism Kenya site is also .mobi friendly, the app serves as a travel guide to all of the country’s ‘must see’ destinations. “Discover the beauty and excitement of Kenya with this richly detailed travel guide for your Android phone. It’s the perfect travel companion, helping you explore our enchanting nation whether you’re preparing for your trip, already here or simply curious and want to learn more,” they state. The app can make use of the location features on a smartphone to connect users with local businesses, hotels and restaurants.
Visiting any country in Africa can be frustrating if the native language is not that of the traveller. Fortunately, Google has made a number of strides in this regard and has developed a fairly accurate translation service. The service provides translations in more than 70 languages in text or speech form, and covers a number of languages spoken on the Continent, such as Afrikaans, Swahili, French, Portuguese and even Arabic for those with business dealings in the Arabic states. The service can read out any translations aloud and even convert them from text into photos, and there is the option to download offline language packs.
Navigating most African cities can also be a daunting task, but OsmAnd has a solution. The Android mapping app allows users to download highly-detailed maps that work entirely offline so users only need to enable their GPS functionality on their smartphone for it to work. Users will also be able to download maps and navigation data for the entire African continent, which will provide them with addresses, points of interest and specific locations in each city. Africa is a separate download from within the main application, so users will not have to search for individual African cities. The app will provide accurate directions for either walking, driving or cycling. It is one of the best free GPS/map applications on the Android market at the moment.
6. XE Currency
No African business traveller should venture into a foreign country without some sort of currency exchange application. XE’s user-friendly interface allows users to search and store their most used currencies and includes the latest currency exchange rates for Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Botswana, Egypt and almost all other African countries. Since the app makes use of live data from the XE website, the only drawback is that users will need to be connected to the internet for it to work.
As mentioned, business is vital to keeping Africa afloat, so any app or website driving commerce is a welcome sight. SlimTrader enables African users to carry out e-commerce transactions, like buying or paying for goods and services via SMS or WAP. “By enabling purchases via mobile, SlimTrader hopes to relieve the burden associated with everyday transactions,” the company says. The app is ideal for users struggling with cash or bank payments and it is incredibly easy to use. “Merchants partner with SlimTrader and this enables them to conduct business via mobile sites that work on WAP phones or via SMS for users without internet access. Users can then search, reserve or pay for goods and services either via the mobile sites or through a series of SMS messages between the user and the merchant,” SlimTrader explained.
South African Airways make numerous daily flights to a variety of African countries, and it is critical that travellers keep up to date with flight schedules and developments. SAA’s app provides users with the ability to manage their booking, check in online and even log into their Voyager Miles profile. “As the proud national airline of South Africa and member of the Star Alliance, this app is another touch point in making your experience of traveling with South African Airways a world class one ensuring you travel in award winning style and comfort,” SAA states.
It is almost certain that business travellers to Nigeria will take to the skies at some point during their stay – and no one wants to be late for meetings or events. The NigerianFlights app allows users to check up-to-date flight schedules or even find alternative flights for airlines at more than 20 active airports in Nigeria. “This would help you more easily plan your departure or plan your Airport pick up,” developers UKN Communications stated. The app is designed for both iPhone and iPad, and is being made available for $4.99.
Nigeria is the business hub of West Africa, so it is essential that business travellers have the right information exactly when they need it. Nigeria Essential Travel Guide provides users with relevant travel information, attractions, offline maps, Points of Interest Search, a translator and a world clock. The app is “jam-packed with tons of attractions, museums, restaurants, bars, hotels and shopping destinations with traveller ratings, reviews, image galleries, rich travel info and free, daily updates”.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor