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Startup - December 2, 2021

Are Super Apps the Next Big Thing to Happen in Africa?

The rise of super apps in Africa could be the next big thing for the continent. With diverse services that are helping to define a modern economy and also transform traditional finance for the continent. 

The growth of the mobile app market is at an all-time high. Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya are leading in consumer usage of mobile apps. In the first half of 2021, spending via mobile apps surged to $64.9 billion.

The emergence of super apps began in China with WeChat and Alipay. This radical approach to mobile applications allows customers to adjust to the rapid increase in services, all from one app.

Many African startups have initiated the super app model in providing services like food delivery, grocery shopping, ride-hailing, logistics, instant messaging, and financial services all in one app. Startups like Gozem, Opay and Yassir have made a solid footprint in the super app space, making it the next big thing on the African horizon.

Gozem’s Super App for Francophone Africa

Gozem has focused its various services on Francophone Africa, including transportation, e-commerce, and financial services in its super app. 

Recently the Togo, and Singapore based startup raised $5 million in Series A funding. The received investment was from AAIC, Thunes- TransferTo, Momentum Ventures- SMRT, Innoport Ventures- Schulte Group, CMC Ventures- National Express and Liil Ventures- Mobility ADO. 

Gregory Costamagna, Raphael Dana, and Emeka Ajene founded Gozem as a motorbike ride-hailing service, which kicked off operations in Togo in 2018.

Gozem expanded its transportation verticals to include taxi and tricycle services in numerous cities in Togo and Benin as part of a bid to emulate the Grab and Gojek model in Southeast Asia. The founders believe that Africa marketplaces have the same socioeconomic dynamics as Asia.

With a population of 8 million people and a gross national income per capita of $1,670 in 2019, Togo might not be your first option in West Africa for a consumer-facing software firm, let alone a multipurpose super app. Ghana has a large and stable economy to the west, and Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy is home to the continent’s most lively tech hub, making them the go-to for any startup founder.

But Ajene, Costamagna, and Raphael Dana concentrated on what they perceived as Francophone Africa’s underdeveloped digital markets, first with Togo, then Benin, and finally Gabon.

“There’s a certain market pull towards super apps for bottom-of-the-pyramid users, as they eliminate certain pain points that multiple, single-purpose apps present to users,

Those pain points include challenges, like most consumers owning cheaper low-storage smartphones, which force the user to delete some apps in order to download others, and the overall cost of internet data. 

Super apps bundle together frequently used services, like transport, shopping, delivery, and more into a uniquely high ‘bang for your buck’ experience to this value-conscious segment, and they also present an often underappreciated economic boost and job creation for local economies”, said Ajene, who had previously worked with Uber in Nigeria.

Yassir’s Super App in North Africa

The North African startup, Yassir, is on the verge of creating a super app in the African space with a recently received Series A funding of $30 million.

The startup, which started as a ride-hailing app, plans to create a super app using the marketplace approach to provide payment services to all parties involved.

“Our approach of solving the unbanked population problem is unique in the region by offering more of a ‘banking as a platform’ solution where daily services are at the heart of it all via a super-app marketplace”, CEO Noureddine Tayebi said.

“Such services not only build trust for all the sides of the marketplace but also use them as channels to offer these payment services, which we think is the approach that is most suited to the region. Most of our competitors are either on-demand services — ride-hailing or last-mile delivery only — or pure payment solutions. This gives us an edge over them as we build the network, the channels and the trust that are all key ingredients for the adoption of payment services at large scale”, he added.  

A Failed Super App

OPay Payments Super App

Opera’s fintech startup, OPay is a one-stop mobile-based platform for payment, transportation, food and grocery delivery, and other vital services in Nigeria. OPay is used by millions of people every day to transfer and receive money, pay bills, and place food and grocery orders.   

The platform, founded by Zhou Yahul in 2018, suspended their super-app ambition due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Nigerian government’s ban on motorbike ride-hailing services to remodel their platform into a financial service provider.

READ MORE: Algerian Transport Startup Yassir Raises $30 Million Funding to Scale and Support Talent Across Africa

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