In this article, Osetohame Matthew Agbonyeme looks at how local knowledge can help African product managers create custom solutions
If you are a product manager and you live closer to Alaba than Alabama or you live closer to New Benin than New Jersey, chances are you’re well aware of the challenges that come with building custom solutions for the African continent instead of simply importing Western models.
The key to success? Knowing your local audience. That’s where local knowledge can be invaluable. With a deep understanding of the nuances of African markets and users, product managers can create unique solutions that create lasting value.
In this article, we’ll dive into how local knowledge can help African product managers create custom solutions. We’ll look at why it is important to use local knowledge and how it can be leveraged to understand user needs and create tailored solutions. By learning more about user needs, product managers will be better equipped to build near-perfect products fit for their markets. Let’s get started!
Understanding the Needs of African Stakeholders
As an African product manager, it’s important for you to understand the needs and expectations of the African stakeholders. Local knowledge is key to success here – by getting to know your users and their needs, you can build custom solutions that work better in the African context.
For example, communication is a huge factor in Africa. It’s not just about having access to the internet or understanding digital platforms – it’s about being able to share information effectively through traditional forms of communication, such as face-to-face meetings or SMS messaging. By taking local communication styles into account when designing your products, you can ensure that they are both user-friendly and effective.
Moreover, it’s also important to consider factors such as economics and culture when building products for African users. Different regions may have different economic realities, so understanding their financial constraints and what their resources are could help shape the features of your product accordingly. Additionally, cultural nuances like language, customs and worldviews can inform the design decisions you make for your product – allowing you to craft something that more accurately reflects the people who will use it.
Leveraging Local Knowledge to Design African Solutions
You know the phrase “think globally, act locally?” Well, as an African product manager, it’s important to take this concept to heart when developing products specifically tailored to the African market. Instead of following the trends of the global marketplace, tapping into local knowledge and understanding your unique customer base can be essential to creating effective and meaningful solutions.
It comes down to this: organizations often struggle to execute a one-size-fits-all approach without taking into account local needs and preferences. To rise above this limitation and create custom solutions for your market, you need to gain insight from all stakeholders involved. This means involving stakeholders like engineers, designers and product owners in a collaborative effort to design effective solutions that meet the needs of local communities in Africa.
Harnessing local knowledge can help you better understand user experience, create more informed design decisions, build impactful products with tangible business value — all while reducing time to market and operational costs. Leverage local knowledge today and you’ll be able to develop valuable African solutions for tomorrow!
How to Identify and Analyze Local Market Dynamics
Creating great products that solve people’s problems means understanding the African context—how customers think and behave, what their values and beliefs are. More specifically, you need to understand the local market dynamics—what’s important to your target customer base, what the competition is doing, and how technology can help.
Here are a few steps to help you identify and analyze local market dynamics:
Take Time to Research & Observe
As a product manager in Africa, it’s essential that you take the time to research and observe before making decisions. That includes studying industry news, trends, surveys and user data; conducting interviews with customers; analyzing competitors; joining discussion boards related to your space; and more.
Understand Your Customer Base & Identify Unmet Needs
It’s not enough to just research—you also need to understand who your customer base is, both from a demographic perspective (age group, location) as well as from a psychographic perspective (values, interests). From there, you can identify unmet needs that your product can solve for those customers.
Leverage Technology for Competitive Advantage
Finally, don’t forget about leveraging technology for competitive advantage. From machine learning and virtual assistant technologies, to artificial intelligence (AI) advancements like natural language processing (NLP), there are plenty of tools at your disposal that can help you build better local solutions faster.
The Benefits of Building Sustainable Technology Solutions for Africa
Building solutions that are custom-fit to African needs has a great number of benefits. For one, local knowledge and feedback can help ensure that the solution is durable and designed to stand the test of time. Moreover, African solutions tend to have a greater sensitivity to local needs and trends, meaning they’re more likely to be adopted and used on the ground.
A great example of this was M-PESA in Kenya, a mobile money transfer platform which allows users to receive, store and spend money digitally. What made M-PESA different from other digital payment platforms around the world was its unique design; it adapted quickly to cultural norms, accepted payments through informal networks like family groups and religious organizations, and made money transfers easier for rural as well as urban citizens who did not have traditional bank accounts or access to formal financial services.
It’s when product managers take these kinds of localized factors into account that they create sustainable technology solutions designed for Africa. This means understanding all of the needs on the ground—cultural, economic, technological—and creating an effective user experience tailored around them. By taking this approach, product managers can create technology solutions that are uniquely African:
- Solutions that are built with African users in mind
- Solutions that prioritize African economic needs
- Solutions that take advantage of Africa’s abundant natural resources
- Solutions that look for ways to fill gaps in modern infrastructure
Exploring Ways to Effectively Integrate Local and Global Perspectives
As an African product manager, you understand the importance of combining local and global insights to create solutions that are tailored to the needs of African customers. However, this can be easier said than done when it comes to creating effective strategies.
Know Your Audience
It’s important to consider what makes your target audience unique and how you can use that knowledge to create customized solutions. Local knowledge can do wonders for a product aimed at an African market. By understanding the cultural context, you can start to anticipate customer needs more accurately and address them in an appropriate manner.
Utilize Marketplace Insights
Another way to tap into local knowledge is to research the marketplace, understanding who your competitors are and how they are approaching their products, as well as what customers expect from these products. This information can be invaluable when strategizing your own product’s road map and how best to approach it for maximum success.
Finally, don’t forget about language barriers or cultural nuances when creating your product roadmap:
- Look for ways to communicate with customers in their native language. This will help establish trust and create a better user experience.
- Understand cultural nuances that could potentially impact how users interact with your product or service, as these will differ from country to country across Africa.
Ultimately, having a good grasp on local knowledge is essential for creating custom solutions that African customers will find helpful and meaningful. Taking the time to research your target audience, build relationships with industry stakeholders, review competitor offerings and consider cultural contexts will help you craft tailored solutions that meet customer expectations while staying true to global standards of excellence
Guiding Principles for Creating African Solutions
Building a custom African solution rather than just simply importing a western solution requires understanding some key guiding principles.
Leverage Local Knowledge
Your first instinct when building a product might be to jump onto the internet and do some research for inspiration. Unfortunately, sometimes, this isn’t the best way to get an African perspective. Instead, you’ll need to tap into local knowledge and understanding. This is easily done by getting feedback from customers, mentors and business partners who have expertise and experience in the local context. This insight could be invaluable in helping you save time in development cycles and get to market quickly with something uniquely tailored for your African customer base.
Stay Abreast of the Local Landscape
Changes happen within the African market at a lightning speed so it’s important to stay abreast of the trends influencing it: governmental regulations, customer preferences, technological advancements etcetera— all these can have an effect on how customers interact with products and services. To ensure success, product managers must remain up-to-date with changes in the industry so they can pivot their product appropriately or new features and services that better meet local customer needs.
By leveraging local knowledge, understand what’s changed in your target markets over time, and constantly monitor trends within those industries; Product Managers are sure to create custom solutions that will survive the test of time no matter how dynamic their ecosystem is.
In conclusion, African product managers have an opportunity to build custom solutions that are tailored to the needs of African communities. Growing and preserving local knowledge can help them stay ahead of the curve, understanding unique challenges and creating relevant solutions.
By capitalizing on the resources and information available to them, African product managers can create African solutions that take into account their local context and culture. With their unique insights, product managers can effectively revolutionize the African market and shape its future for the better.
About the author:
Osetohame Matthew Agbonyeme is a product manager and operations lead with 7 years of experience in the tech industry. He has built exciting products in the FinTech, EdTech, and Agritech spaces, and he is very passionate about using technology to make a positive impact on people’s lives, improve livelihood opportunities and create markets for the underserved, minorities and women. He has implemented and worked with a number of Organisations like HP, Binance, SenexPay, Utiva, Edo State Government, the UKAID, BOI, NIRSAL, amongst others.