9 Sep 2016

Vecna Cares - social upliftment through advanced wireless technologies

By Deborah Theobald - Co-Founder of Vecna Technologies and and Emily Ellison Taylor - Vecna Cares Charitable Trust

As ICT industry leaders from around Nigeria and West Africa gather in Lagos in September for Nigeria Com 2016, there is an important conversation happening around how investment in ICT networks and strengthening digital networks in the country could spur economic growth. Just recently, AllAfrica reported that the leader of the Nigerian software company SystemSpecs has “urged the federal government to refocus its attention on information communication technology for speedy economic growth in light of dwindling oil prices on the international market.”

Advanced wireless technologies can help stakeholders realise social benefits

Indeed, the opportunity to leverage the booming ICT industry for economic development in Nigeria is important and deserves sustained and focused investment. But, there is another equally compelling way that investments in ICT infrastructure and markets can impact Nigeria: advanced wireless technologies can help stakeholders realise social benefits.

Specifically, investment in extending robust and reliable wireless networks to rural Nigeria, paired with equipping frontline health workers with the necessary hardware components (smart phones, tablets) will permit better quality data collection and records keeping. The extended wireless coverage will allow data from disparate geographies to be aggregated in a cloud based database, allowing more exhaustive and nuanced analysis of data on human resources for health, health care utilisation rates, healthcare spending and health outcomes. Access to this information will help with better, data-driven decision making at all levels of the Nigerian health sector.

The program...put[s] actionable data in the hands of policy and decision makers in less time than the previous paper-based process

As an example, let’s examine the structure, inputs and outcomes of a current program deploying advanced wireless technologies. Together, Vecna Cares and InStrat Global Health Solutions have been working in Nigeria on the CliniPAK360 program since 2013. To date, CliniPAK360 has been deployed to 51 facilities in four states throughout Nigeria and will reach 100 Primary Health Care centers by the end of 2016 in six states. This program puts Android tablets in the hands of healthcare workers to capture data at the point of care and CliniPAK360 employs advanced wireless technology to assist healthcare workers in capturing key data elements during every patient encounter. The program aggregates patient data in real time and accelerates the reporting process at the facility and state level, putting actionable data in the hands of policy and decision makers in less time than the previous paper-based process. This leads to a better and more timely understanding of the health burden, improved connection between the state and local health resources, and a consistent quality of care with each patient interaction. These advantages help facilities become more efficient and make clinicians more effective, helping to drive down the number of maternal and infant deaths. Lives are saved and costs are contained.

The project operates with a grant from Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, which implements programs in five areas: health care, education, entrepreneurship, public safety, and the environment. Important, strategic, and well-defined, each of these can, and does benefit greatly from the introduction of advanced wireless technology as a well-suited solution to development issues.

We encourage the attendees at Nigeria Com to engage in inter-sectoral and collaborative conversations, recognizing the many ways improved ICT infrastructure can propel Nigeria forward. We look forward to participating in these conversations!

Qualcomm will be taking part in Nigeria Com 2016.

Deborah Theobald, the Co-Founder of Vecna Technologies and the Executive Director of Vecna Cares, will be speaking on day 1 of Nigeria Com on: Understanding the value-chain of connectivity for improving healthier lives and societies in Nigeria.

Be part of the African tech and telco conversation, here:

6 Sep 2016

Doing IM differently - The new trends and tech changing how Nigerian's communicate in 'mobile Africa'

Worldwide, instant messaging has become the number one communication platform for personal as well as business-to-consumer messaging. Ordering a taxi, shopping, banking, customer service, chats, internet content, dating, hobbies and lots more are increasingly chat based. Whether it’s between individuals, a business and an individual or a chatbot and an individual, instant messengers are becoming the centre of all communication. While still dominated by SMS, emerging markets like Nigeria are expected to follow this trend.

In feature phone-heavy Nigeria, SMS has been the number one way of messaging. The domination of SMS in B2C messaging is impressive in Nigeria - way above the global average. Research results by Mobile Ecosystem Forum revealed that 47% of Nigerians receive an unwanted SMS every day. Globally the same figure is only 28%. The shift of messaging to instant messengers is a global phenomenon and we can expect Nigeria to follow, seeing the move away from SMS.

93% of Nigerian adults own a mobile phone, of which 51% are smartphones

Instant messaging is coming to Nigeria as smartphone penetration grows. 93% of Nigerian adults own a mobile phone, of which 51% are smartphones. Even though the figures are rapidly growing, only some 6% of the Nigerian population is using social services like Jongla, Snapchat or Facebook on smartphones. The growth of the social service usage in Nigeria is driven by men, as 66% of Facebook accounts belong to them.

We are going to see explosive growth in mobile social usage. Nigeria is a mobile first country with only 13% of adults owning a laptop or desktop computers. There’s huge potential for social smartphone apps as the remaining half of mobile phone owners adopt smartphones in the coming years. Of the 185 million people in Nigeria, some 11 million are so far accessing social apps via mobile. 

In Nigeria, mobile networks are often unreliable and mobile data is expensive

To win over the Nigerian audience, we had to overcome the obstacles characteristic of emerging markets. In Nigeria, mobile networks are often unreliable and mobile data is expensive. In order to deliver messages safely and to save user’s prepaid data plans, we have built the service to transfer as little data as possible.

Where Jongla aims to win the battle for Nigerian instant messenger users is through innovation and creating a light but full-featured app. We have made the strategic decision to make our apps as low in data consumption as possible. This way, people in emerging nations can save money and data with our messenger.

  • Lite – world’s lightest messenger helps people to save money and data
  • Jongla Out – send messages and chat with people inside or outside Jongla
  • People – built-in community helps users to discover interesting new people nearby
  • Reactions – a new way to express friendship and an interest in meeting new people
  • Push-to-talk with filters – voice filters that add a layer of fun to voice messaging

Lite: Within the next two years, a whole new generation of mobile natives, roughly a billion people, will access the mobile Internet, mostly via low-end smartphones with prepaid plans. Emerging markets, the driver of this growth, still suffer from low connectivity and the high cost of data. In 2015, Jongla became the world’s lightest full-featured messaging app in an effort to help people save money and data. According to our studies, Jongla uses 80% less data compared to Viber and 25% less data compared to Facebook Messenger. Jongla also takes a fraction of data to download compared to all major competitors.
Jongla Out: Jongla Out technology means that chatting is no longer restricted to a specific app or platform. Jongla users now have the ability to chat as normal with any of their contacts, no matter what messaging service their contact is using, or even if they don’t use any. The receiver can reply via free web chat. This makes messaging simple and barrier-free for everyone. 

Jongla users can now discover and interact with new friends based on their location with a built-in community feature

People: Since summer 2016, in addition to chatting, Jongla users can now discover and interact with new friends based on their location with a built-in community feature called ‘People’. The feature was designed to enable users to be able to discover interesting new people around them. To protect user privacy, only an approximate location is given and the feature is optional.

Reactions: Also, added alongside the community, is the ability to engage with user profiles with a choice of reaction. Reactions can be exchanged between people to express emotions from a simple thumbs-up, smile or even a virtual flirtation with a heart. Our emotions towards other people might sometimes be hard to put into words. We wanted to give our users a way to express their friendship or interest towards new people in a meaningful and fun way.

Push-to-talk with filters: Push-to-talk is a feature that allows quick messaging even for those who have a hard time writing messages for different reasons. We wanted to make this feature worthwhile for even those who didn’t find the feature useful before. This is why in May 2015, we released a unique voice effects studio within Jongla. With this innovative feature, users are able to record up to one minute push-to-talk messages and choose from pre-installed high quality voice filters making the sound like a squirrel, monster or the police. Think Instagram for voice.

About the author:

Riku Salminen is one of the industry pioneers working on new OTT messaging services. Riku and his global team at Jongla is on a mission to change how people communicate in the future and driving one of the most promising mobile messaging startups towards innovation and success.

Riku has worked previously in the fields of telecommunications, media, advertising, gaming and startups. As an innovator and driver Riku has spent his entire career involved in creating new digital innovations and businesses.

Riku will be speaking and taking part in two sessions at Nigeria Com 2016.

Day 2:
Industry address: Disrupting the instant messaging market The future of IM for Nigerian market needs

Plenary panel: Enhancing content integration to bridge the digital revenue gap – the rise of data driven services through smart devices

Be part of the African tech and telco conversation, here:

  • Digital in 2016 by WeAreSocial 
  • Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s Messaging report 
  • Android Application Package sizes in Google Play Store, May 17th, 2016 
  • A data consumption study carried out by Jongla with Android SDK command line tools and Linux Kernel, June 7th, 2016