Mobile Developers have been hailed for their creativity and urged to develop more localized applications for them to benefit from massive opportunities brought about by mobile phones.

Speaking to, Head of Marketing Services, Middle East & Africa, Woon Peng, urged them to tap in their local environments to be successful.

“When it comes to creativity developers here are at par with the rest. We are sharing tools, show them the optimized ways and giving them guidelines to develop the best applications,” Peng said

She emphasized that Nokia was working with African mobile developers to deliver the best mobile user experience through home grown applications.

Woon Peng

“They know the local market and we’ll show them how to package it and deliver it, we are saying lets share knowledge, build up the energy make it happen,” she said

Creativity aside, Peng said that developers in South Africa and Africa in general still face challenges for them to successfully launch usable applications.

“What is lacking is the access to infrastructure and community groups were they can share ideas. Yes there is internet but a vibrant group of people sharing ideas is much better, so I think they need to establish a hub were they can freely express themselves,” Peng explained.

Mobile Internet Growth

It is estimated that mobile internet penetration will reach 50% of subscribers in Africa by the end of 2010, there is a huge potential for developers in using mobile phones as services platforms.

In South Africa alone it is estimated that there are now at least 9, 5-million mobile wap users in the country. These are combined user figures on all the local cellphone networks. In comparison, Online Publisher Association statistics of traditional desktop web SA users puts the local-only usership figure at around 5,7 million users.

This set up translate to the fact that South Africa has double the number of mobile internet users as opposed to the traditional PC users.

Indication are that the gap will grow bigger, given the reach and penetration rates of mobile phones, and the paradoxical situation whereby mobile internet access is amongst the world’s cheapest here, yet traditional desktop internet access among the world’s most expensive.

Given this scenario Peng said developers need to be work with academia and other institutions to develop more practical applications that will service this growing market.

“Universities and other stakeholders must provide the platform for developers to share ideas in order to come up with applications that will satisfy this growing market,” she explained.

According to the workshop organizers, future application scenarios involving mobile phones are plenty, making remote health monitoring possible, accessing personal health records, providing education opportunities worldwide, enhancing mobile banking and payment services.

This however, has its challenges which developers need to address urgently to enhance development; the current mobile applications are limited in scope, relevance and number.

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