The discussion around app development in Kenya before Covid-19 was about loan apps. Everyone was concerned about the interest rates and the need to regulate digital lenders.
Kenyans were complaining about the recovery process and threats for defaulting on small amounts. Then came Covid-19 and the discussion changed.
The restriction of movement has led to creative ideas and innovation.
Increase in demand for courier services
Staying at home or working from home has been on top of the list of precautionary measures. This means that firms had to figure out a way of delivering their products to their clients to stay in business.
Unfortunately, the crisis was unexpected and its effects on businesses unpredictable.
The wait and see approach does not work for a business that sells perishable products. At the same time, most of the businesses did not have their own courier services before the crisis.
The result has been a sudden increase in the demand for courier services.
Glovo and Uber are among the tech firms that have benefited from the demand for services.
The challenge has been keeping up with the demand from individuals and companies while protecting the drivers from Covid-19.
Luckily, the Ministry of Health provided sufficient guidelines on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
Restaurants and fast foods
Restaurants and fast food joints have experienced perhaps the worst effects of the health crisis.
The government was quick to shut down social places because of the crowds they attract.
How do such firms stay afloat without allowing customers into their premises? Courier services have been the answer.
Customers can order food online. The restaurants then organize the delivery process.
Many such businesses have been operating without a mobile or online store. The much they do is advertise their business on social media.
Covid-19 has pushed business owners to start thinking about app development in Kenya.
The discussion now is not just about a business app but a delivery app as well.
Kenyans are quick to spot such opportunities in the market.
Jumia and Twiga foods
We have known Jumia to sell all types of household products but not groceries. However, the pandemic has made shopping for even basic items like groceries a risk.
The recent partnership between Jumia and Twiga foods has solved the equation for Kenyans.
Shoppers can buy groceries on the e-commerce platform alongside other items.
The groceries are pre-packaged and include items that every home needs such as potatoes, tomatoes, milk, and fruits among other items.
In addition, customers save on the cost of these items. The partners promise up to 50% savings based on the prices of the products in local supermarkets
Another benefit is the same-day delivery within Nairobi and its suburbs at no extra cost.
Although Covid-19 has fuelled such partnerships and innovation, the deals are likely to continue even after the crisis.
Similar deals among other firms are likely to come up as Kenyan shoppers have already adapted to online shopping.
You mention Uber and taxis come to mind immediately. Uber Eats is still growing in Kenya but it has come in handy during the crisis.
Taxi apps have formed a huge part of app development in Kenya, after Uber, Taxify, and Bolt hit the market.
However, with the instructions to stay at home, the demand for taxi services has reduced.
Uber introduced two apps in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The move was unimaginable to many business owners who have been forced to downscale their operations.
The first app was Uber Connect, which enables families and friends to send packages to different cities.
With social distancing, delivering simple packages like documents, clothes, gifts, or house items is impossible.
Uber Connect deliveries packages without endangering the lives of senders, couriers, and recipients.
The second app that the tech company released is Uber Direct, which is an extension of its food app, Uber Eats.
Uber Direct poses competition to Jumia because it delivers household items and groceries from supermarkets.
The edge that Jumia and Twiga have over Uber Direct is competitive prices.
The two companies have also built a strong brand in the delivery of products in the Kenyan market.
Dominating the logistics market
Many developers and innovators have been responding to the crisis by creating apps around it.
Most Coronavirus or Covid-19 apps focus on notifying users of their distance from an infected person. Other apps help health care workers to handle the disease efficiently through accurate and timely data.
What happens after the crisis? Will we still need the apps?
Some innovators are seeing the light! There is a new frontier in the field of logistics.
It may take some time before the coronavirus threat is eliminated. The arguments against its vaccines and possible treatment may delay the process further.
As mentioned, Kenyans have already adapted to the new reality. In fact, the crisis has proved to many shoppers that they can survive for weeks without going out.
With an e-commerce platform or app, businesses can serve a significant percentage of their clients online.
The challenge now remains in providing affordable, efficient, and timely delivery services.
Business owners have suffered for years in the hands of rogue truck drivers and logistics companies.
Kenyans need to wake up to the opportunities in the market instead of leaving everything to foreign companies.
The companies that started earlier have reaped extra benefits with the Covid-19 crisis. The extra income will continue until new entrants interrupt with better or differentiated courier services.
The worst of situations can present business opportunities for those who are keen to identify them. We have given you a hint for app development in Kenya. The big question now is if you will take action or wait for another foreign investor to take the opportunity.
A simple delivery app that all types of businesses can use is likely to attract thousands of users. Entrepreneurs have learnt from the crisis the need for current technologies and reliable logistics to cushion their enterprises.