As we go into year 2012 we bring to you a critical analysis of the most promising business niches for startups. These are niches we believe will further push the limits of tech based business in Nigeria and Africa. These are potential areas that will make impact in the coming year and hopefully make a few more tech millionaires in the continent. Below is the list. Enjoy!
1. Educational Technologies: Startups are springing up pretty quickly across Nigeria and Africa trying to solve myriads of problems from communication to agriculture, payment/commerce and so on yet there is a sector in the continent which is in dire need of the tech revolution; the educational sector. 2012 will be a nice time to see real tech ideas meant to make education a far easier, enjoyable and fruitful process. Real startups that will aim at providing quick, real time solutions to educational challenges in the continent will attract attention primarily because it will be doing something different and revolutionary. The startups to watch that may be already attempting to do something in that sector are few and far between. Skoola is one of them.
2. Digital Content Sharing Platforms: Quite a couple of years back Africans and Nigerians had to buy CDs to watch movies and listen to favourite music. Sharing videos was limited apart from Youtube. Now sharing digital content is becoming ever faster and easier and what’s more ground breaking digital content sharing is coming to Nigeria. IrokoTV, Sturvs, etc are gradually changing the way we watch movies and listen to music. In 2012 music distribution in Nigeria and Africa will go digital. Book publishing and distribution is still very much traditional and some of that will change. The fact that books (such as Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson) are being sold in electronic formats and watched in digital devices like the Kindle show that content is going digital (written, audio, video, graphic). 2012 may usher in new startups that distribute the music content of Nigerian musicians on smart devices which people pay to download.
3. Collaborative Commerce: In today’s fast moving world it is either you get alliances or risk being ridden over. Commerce is becoming more collaborative and will even become more in 2012. Merchants and Product sellers will have to get used to price comparison mechanisms and applications where people can quickly compare prices with their mobile device before buying. Deals sites are looking to get merchants and sellers to offer specific number of deals to get more exposure and more things sold. Commerce will sure undergo more fundamental changes in 2012 and commerce and merchandise firms will collaborate more. Technology will affect shopping more than it has ever done.
4. Ecommerce/Payment Solutions: This has all the while appeared as another huge potential sector in Nigeria especially and the rest of Africa. If the mobile money experiments go on smoothly the way payments and purchases of items and services are made will change. Nigeria still faces some challenges of payment when it comes to doing business with the western world and creative solutions to this will attract significant benefits to the initiators.
5. Investing: We will rather have written angel investing but it may not serve for our purpose. As the world’s investors in tech and related business startups turn their attention on Africa and Nigeria a lot of investment decisions will be taken next year. The investment climate will get more business-like with angel investors becoming more organised. Already a few venture funds are coming together from within the country. And with this venture firms different in model and operation from traditional business funding organisations like banks it is going to be exciting watching as Nigeria’s Technology and Business Startup space gets more competitive.
6. TV and Movie Production: Nollywood has stayed stagnant for some years and refused to grow to meet up with standards in Hollywood but that is gradually changing as younger, smarter, marketing oriented and tech savvy producers, directors get into the business. Once Nigeria’s piracy and distribution issues are tackled at least with some seriousness this industry is set to grow in leaps and bounds. It is clear that there is huge opportunity for Nollywood and indeed Nigeria’s entire TV and music industry to generate billions of dollars in annual revenue and in 2012 the significant steps to achieving this may well be taken.
7. Energy: There has never been a more significant time in the Nigeria’s energy sector than now with the fuel subsidy removal argument raging. While we are not going into stating arguments for and against we believe that 2012 may mark a great economic and business shift in the energy sector of Nigeria. With deregulation will come more competition and opportunity for Compnies to come in with alternative energy offerings.
8. Recruitment and Staffing: The flurry and rush over job websites and blogs are almost over. There is now an emerging trend that point to a drastic change in the country’s and indeed Africa’s job and recruitment industry. Government agencies will adopt more online processes for advertising, selecting and recruiting staff. The private organisations are also not left out. Graduates and intending jobseekers are having to learn new job search skills. Whereas we have big, influential job sites and boards like Indeed in the west smart ideas are coming from Africa to change the employment and recruitment industry with entrants like Njorku, Ngcareers etc.
9. Niche Consulting: Even in Europe consulting firms are no longer claiming to offer almost any form of business consulting services. The way to go will be consulting for specific niches. As companies are forced to look online and go mobile opportunities for consulting firms with experience and smart ideas for using web and mobile to reach and connect with prospective clients will emerge. Specialisations will be in form of social media optimisation and use, Search engine optimisation, public relations and brand building, funding and so on.