Many a time I have observed that when people talk about innovation in this parts, often times they think about the technical aspects of it, like software architecture, server choice, what platform to build for (iOS, Android or web) and other concerns that have to do with the technicalities involved in building the product. While these are very important components of actualizing and scaling an idea or a concept, however, with respect to your immediate market and ecosystem, I think the big learning has to be the business model innovations.
When looking to innovate and to build products for an existing or non-existent market in this part of the world, it goes beyond what platform you are building for, which programming language to use. To ensure a safe landing and to build a strong foundation for your product to scale, ask yourself some critical questions like; how do we reach a customer base that has never had access to formal financial services (e.g. online/digital payment) or sceptical about using one, how do you get millennials to trust an online student accommodation booking platform even when they haven’t seen the room yet.
A lot of young innovators who are often times quite inexperienced take their cue from silicon valley, most of them know a lot of information about what’s happening there often than their local markets.
In trying to build products to for your immediate market and our local ecosystem, intimately associate your self with the market to get an understanding of what the limitations (both human and infrastructure wise) to building a useful and scalable product are.
Note: The kind of innovation that will come out of Africa are going to be very different from what you see in other parts of the world.