SaaS: an impossible establishment in Africa?
SaaS: an impossible establishment in Africa?

SaaS: an impossible establishment in Africa?

“Should SaaS solutions be developed in Africa?” : a topic that is the talk of the town, especially when like us, your company is a SaaS solution. Everyone has their own opinion, everyone has their own piece of truth, but few agree. So today, we are going to give you our interpretation of the place of SaaS in Africa. The interpretation of a startup offering this type of solution on this market, and therefore being at the heart of this issue. Since our launch, we have heard many things. Through this article, we offer you the best of each of these thoughts, in order to get a little closer to the truth.

Computers to represent the idea of a SaaS

What do we call a SaaS ?

But before that, let’s recall what a SaaS is. What does the acronym mean? If you look it up on the Internet, as usual, Wikipedia will give you the answer: Software as a Service (or “Logiciel en tant que Service in French”, but it is less poetic).

The name can be considered self-explanatory, but there are many subtleties, which is why you need to go further than this first page.

SaaS, like many elements of the business world today, was born with the emergence of the Internet, and more specifically with the emergence of cloud computing.

Cloud computing includes 4 main categories: SaaS, IaaS, PaaS and Daas

SaaS is a software solution, hosted on a cloud, and operated by various companies, which pay to access it. An internet connection is sufficient to use it. If there is one piece of information to remember, it is the concept of offshoring. No need to download any application or program, everything is on the cloud. 

The uses of this delocalization are varied for these 4 domains: from the simple application, to the access to a high-end PC remotely (say goodbye to the PC in your office: a screen, an Internet connection, and you can access the virtual machine; weird concept isn’t it?).

The SaaS mostly works in the form of subscription (monthly or annual), and has many advantages: saving time, agility, mobility, security …

But I was talking about the subtleties of SaaS: Fleeti is an example of one of these subtleties. We are a fleet management software, specialized in the fuel issue in Africa. In fact, we offer a SaaS platform, which allows the tracking of vehicle data of a fleet. However, we also install sensors and probes in the concerned vehicles. The subtlety lies there: a SaaS can be completed by the installation of hardware. 

Satellite shot of Africa, to represent the idea of SaaS in Africa

SaaS in Africa

Let’s get back to our topic: SaaS and Africa.

We operate in Senegal, Mauritius, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Since our launch, we have had our share of comments about the idea of implementing a SaaS in Africa. We also have exchanged with other entrepreneurs following the same path as us.

And yet, what comes up most often is that “SaaS does not work in Senegal”, that “African companies do not trust external software, they prefer to internalize”. I’ll spare you the exhaustive list, having stopped counting these remarks myself.

Let’s lay the groundwork: most of this is wrong.

The companies on site are already integrating SaaS solutions. Some are developing on this basis, such as @Paps, which integrates directly into the supply chain of companies, or @Nopala, the concierge service that helps merchants & artisans boost their sales. 

SaaS works in Senegal. What all those who make these remarks do not see is that it works differently. A SaaS developed for African issues does not look like a SaaS developed for European companies: the companies are different, as are the work habits.

We must not fall into this trap: just because the operation must be adapted to the constraints of the market does not mean that it cannot work. This is one of the great advantages of SaaS: adaptability.

Questionmark to ask about the difference between SaaS in Africa and in Europe

So, what is different?

In two words: “customer support”. Whether it’s through after-sales service, customer service, the implementation of the solution… The support must be much more advanced.

It is not simply, as is the case for some SaaS in Europe or America, to give access to the solution and then simply receive monthly payments.

In Africa, it is necessary to be available for the collaborator, to accompany him in the use of the solution, to make a constant follow-up, to ask for feedbacks…

It may also be necessary to complement your SaaS with hardware, as we do at Fleeti.

If you understand this, you are on the right track to make your SaaS work in Africa.

As a matter of fact, at Fleeti we :

  • visit our customers at least once a month to get feedback
  • call them often, to listen to them, to listen to them again, and especially to listen to them… to understand them
  • welcome their feelings, we include them in our progress and we offer them new solutions.

This is the key: like any product, a SaaS must adapt to its customers. In Africa, this requires quality customer service.

Looking to join Fleeti ? Find us on our website, https://www.fleeti.co/. Feel free to read more about why you should digitize your forms when using a fleet.

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