According to a Siemens Digital Maturity Report, access to and usage of digital tools for practical applications in Sub-Saharan Africa remain low, despite digital training being widespread. In the report, they underline that large corporates are still driving much of the digital change in Africa. However, a 2017 survey of 1,500 senior executives by Russell Reynolds Associates suggests that inertia and a lack of expertise at board level is slowing down digitalisation in may of these corporates. Another factor, according to the Siemens report, is the high cost of IT goods and services combined with the high cost of healthcare.
With 40% of the African population under 15 and mobile usage, there is no shortage of digital know-how on the continent. Nor is there a shortage of passion for finding efficient and innovative digital solutions for the pressing health problems in the region, or deep understanding of those problems and their context. For example, the team at MedRxapp noticed that people were taking long trips to pharmacies without knowing if they would even have the medication they needed or whether the medication was genuine, let alone being able to compare prices. So they created an app which allows patients to check and compare stocks in different supermarkets, verify their medications, and even order it for home delivery. They now have over 2,000 health professionals using their app, and have enabled nearly 10,000 transactions to date. And MedRxapp is just one of the many highly-skilled and enthusiastic digital teams to come out of the African startup scene in the past few years. But turning these innovative ideas and skillsets into viable businesses requires extensive experience and knowledge, and access to a large network of potential customers and investors, which young startup founders often lack. This is an area of strength for corporates.
The Merck Accelerator supports young startups in digital healthcare with tailored mentoring and workshops, up to $30,000 of funding and accommodation and office space for up to 3 months at the Mettā coworking space. Startups can draw on the wealth of expertise and experience in Merck’s global network of over 50,000 industry experts in various fields, including legal and business development.
There are only 2 weeks left to apply for this Fall’s Accelerator program, which runs from September 4, 2017 to December 15, 2017. Applications close at 11:59pm June 26, 2017, so make sure you apply now at: http://bit.ly/2oIm3if