Online Problems for African Firms

The internet was originally quite an open and balanced place where it didn’t really matter where you lived.  However over the years due a variety of factors ranging from cybercrime to commercial competition and perhaps protectionism, the playing fields are not so even now.

It is estimated that Africa will be the next big boom area for online businesses.  The expansion of connectivity has increased greatly with the easy access to smart phones and inexpensive internet enabled devices like tablets.  So how come so  many African digital entrepreneurs feel at a disadvantage?

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One of the biggest problems is the growth in a technology called geolocation which determines you geographical location as you visit a web site.  The technology is used for lots of reasons but often to control and restrict access based on your physical location.  Often this is just an inconvenience, for instance being able to watch entertainment or news channels is useful but not essential for a digital entrepreneur.  Being able to watch Hulu or Iplayer USA, is merely a benefit not a necessity.  However in other situations it can lead to a genuine business disadvantage.

The problem is that many areas of Africa are considered a high fraud risk, which means that lots of companies restrict their services to these areas.  Payment processors are particularly wary of offering their services to people located in Africa which can cause huge problems.  These services are essential is you are trying to sell digital or physical goods and services online without them you simply can’t compete.

There are solutions however these are often cumbersome workarounds which are difficult and expensive to use.   Most digital businesses however do have to invest in such solutions in order to compete online.   One of the options is to invest in fast USA proxy, which can hide  your real location.  When you connect through a proxy based in a different country, you can appear to be in that actual country.  So a Nigerian company can operate through a US VPN or proxy to access services that might normally be inaccessible to them.

It’s a little unfair but these technologies can help companies level the playing field slightly when trying to compete in the digital marketplace.