#TechFriday Feature: App to bridge SA's economic divide
Ndumiso Hadebe (NH): Khomba Africa is an online business directory with features of an e-commerce platform. It links small micro- and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) to consumers in their locality. In the context of an increasingly modernising, digitising and services-based economy, Khomba Africa provides an online and digital presence for businesses that would typically not be found online by a growing and youthful customer base. Khomba is a Zulu word meaning to "point or direct"; in this instance to direct online customers to products and services that they may be in need of via the platform.
SS: Where can people find the app?
NH: The Khomba Africa mobile app is available via the Google Play Store for Android device users. It is also available on the web. We are in the process of also making it available on the Apple iStore and other platforms.
SS: How does the app help township economies?
NH: Khomba Africa as a business is located in the conversation that seeks to reinvigorate the African marketplace by facilitating the greater and more meaningful contribution of SMMEs in South Africa to the mainstream economy with job creation as a key tenant. This is because the South African economy can be characterised as increasingly modernising and services-based.
There is also a tale of two stories about the South African economy. The one is of a developed economy with some of the world’s most sophisticated infrastructure. While we comprise less than 1% of the global population, we have the sixth largest rail network. We are in the top 25 out of 193 countries in the world of tourist arrivals, have the 10th best road network and are the only country out of 54 that accounts for 49% of the largest companies on the continent. The other tale is that of an economy that is largely informal, underdeveloped and lacks sufficient physical and soft infrastructure. Over half of South Africa’s population lives in poverty earning less than R991 a month and has an unemployment rate of 26.7%, and the highest levels of income inequality in the world.
Unemployment and poverty are most chronic among the young people, yet they comprise 61% of the population.
This tale of two stories highlights some of the ingredients that the nation has to be a globally competitive marketplace with an economy that supports the requisite upward social mobility of its people.
Khomba Africa seeks to serve as a facilitator of trade and investment between low-income and high-income markets with the aim of creating inclusive growth and inclusive markets that will result in higher entrepreneurial activity, raising GDP per capita, flattening inequality and creating new sustainable jobs across existing and nascent markets in the country. These objectives are in response to the milestones that have been highlighted in the National Development Plan (NDP).
SS: Have people started using the Khomba Africa mobile app and how has the response been?
NH: Indeed, people have started using it in the past six months. There are more than 1900 active users with over 60000-page visits currently and the response has been positive in the sense that there are users and businesses that are deriving value from the platform.
We still have a very long way to go with regard to making the platform more robust for it to have the kind of impact that we have envisaged for it.
SS: Where do you see Khomba Africa in the next two years?
NH: We see Khomba Africa as the leading online business directory in South Africa, which both online users and South African SMEs will derive great value and benefit from.
We also see ourselves as playing an integral role in the conversation of making high-speed broadband available in low-income communities in order to drive user-ship of the platform and other tech innovations. Studies have proven that a 10% internet penetration rate translates into 1% growth in terms of GDP.
This is therefore an opportunity to leverage that.@SthembisoMedia
To find out more about Khomba Africa, see www.khombaafrica.co.za