The world is reeling from the impact of the novel coronavirus, companies are suffering from cuts in profits and thousands of employees are forced home. However, what seems like a desperate moment in history can actually be turned into a great opportunity. Why, you might ask?
The answer is simple, necessity is the mother of invention and for many innovative companies, the COVID crisis is another opportunity to make their mark.
The following are three opportunity areas opened up for innovative tech companies:
1. Telemedicine and Healthcare
Healthtech companies are, unsurprisingly, in the best position for growth amidst the crisis, while supporting weak African healthcare systems which are ordinarily overwhelmed and have no capacity to withstand a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“I see people understanding the value of telemedicine being the future of healthcare at the end of it all,” says Ifeanyi Nkwonta, Business Development Executive at Tremendoc – a telemedicine platform that, with its partnership with Sterling Bank in Nigeria, is providing free medical consultation to the bank’s customers in the wake of the pandemic.
Tremendoc‘s two new services of therapy and fertility consultations provide the company with a larger base to trial both on Sterling’s clients. Whether or not these services continue to be signed onto the platform after the “free” subscription expires is entirely dependent.
Nkwonta believes that the consumer base will grow during this time. “We expect that [customers] see the value especially with the new therapy service.”
2. Remote Learning
Schools of all levels from Kenya to South Africa, Nigeria and beyond, have closed indefinitely as a result of the pandemic crisis. UNESCO estimates than over 1-billion learners have been affected globally.
This presents the largest ever opportunity for digital learning platforms and tools to thrive even with data costs and Internet access becoming a hindrance to their adoption.
“We are hoping for a Corona boost,” Sam Rich, CEO at eLimu told TechCabal, “but to be honest, we haven’t seen it yet.”
It might still be too early, as schools across Africa have only closed in the last few weeks with schools in Kenya shut down only last Wednesday, and universities on Friday. Though users do seem to be spending more time on eLimu than usual.
“We are seeing the site is more sticky, there are users that are staying on it all day,” Rich says.
eLimu, like many other companies, is playing to provide some free content to users as well as subsidise its rates – especially during this period where affording data toes the line between luxury and necessity.
“The good news is that Safaricom is zero-rating some traffic, and so we want to talk to them and see if they will do the same for us,” Rich says.
Another platform, uLesson – which just recently launched its app – isn’t completely dependent on the internet for availability.
Like eLimu, uLesson is also seeking ways to subsidise its pricing, cutting it almost by 60%.
Succor.ng launched last year as a marketplace store that congregates supermarkets, groceries, and restaurants. The platform allows Nigerians to shop for fresh foods from open-air markets around Lagos.
Succor.ng has an in-app logistics service – riders, operating using the ride-hailing business model pick up orders from vendors and deliver them to customers wherever they are in Nigeria.
Now, with social activities almost at a standstill in some countries, businesses like this expected to see potential increases in customers and marketplace vendors as well.
Abiodun Fasakin, Senior Executive, Operations at Succor says there are now over 1,000 marketplace vendors on their platform and orders have grown by about 42% since the COVID-19 restrictions.
In South Africa, in the midst of a 21-day lockdown, delivery service One-Cart has reported a 300% leap in order volumes. Companies running grocery delivery services will no doubt continue to report high volumes of orders as the pandemic runs its course.
Edited by Luis Monzon
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