Internet Marketing in Africa

So is it possible?  Can you run a successful internet business from Africa or are there too many problems.  The obvious ones are starting to to improve, access to the internet is now fairly straight forward either using the phone network or some decent network infrastructure in the bigger cities.  Fortunately most marketing and online businesses don’t need massive amounts of bandwidth and a PC or laptop with access to a WiFi network or a reasonably priced internet cafe are easily enough.

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So if infrastructure is not a barrier, what’s to stop anyone making a successful living online in Africa?  Well there’s little really – obviously education and technical knowledge can be an issue but if you have access to the internet there’s little to stop people learning themselves.  Everything you need is available online – help with building a website, help with marketing and promotion techniques.  There’s no need to pay for this information either.

If you have any doubts remember some of the most successful online businesses have been set up and run whilst travelling.  There are thousands of bloggers and marketers who run their businesses whilst travelling the world, in fact this is often the driving force behind this way of life.

There are some issues of course, and as always these can be significant if you don’t find a way around them.  Many marketers have difficulty with sending and receiving payments because many online processors won’t allow accounts from certain countries.  Unfortunately places like Nigeria have something of a reputation for online fraud, which means that legitimate marketers find it difficult to get accounts for services like these.  If you have a decent bank account and perhaps a credit card which is internationally accepted then this goes a long way to bypassing these barriers.

The problems with location can be solved too, generally your location is determined from you IP address however this can be hidden quite easily.   You may have heard of a service called VPN which is commonly used to bypass internet filters and access content in other countries like this one used when Netflix blocked proxies.   Well this can also be used to create a digital personae which is based in another country, simply connect through to server based in an American or European country and that’s where you’ll appear to be based from.

The trick is that the IP address that is revealed to whichever web site you visit is the last one, so if you connect through a UK VPN server you’ll have a British IP address.   This is worth doing as you’ll get a much easier time with a London IP than one from Lagos – unfair that it seems.

Starting in an internet based business in Africa can have some challenges however there is no doubt that the market is there.  If you focus on a domestic market first, you’ll actually have an advantage – learn what Africans want online and try and supply them.

John Carter

Further Reading:

Using a Proxy for Netflix, Carden House Publishing, 2016