The Next Billion Users in AgriTech solutions

“The Next Billion Users” is the subject of a critical book by Payal Arora, entitled The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West. The Book incorporates a range of argumentative topics on how western tech founders and executives misinterpret the needs of the global poor on the other side of the world— the book is also highlighting what internet access really means to them.

The book is exciting in general however it is more inspiring if you take it from sectoral perspective. Think about the healthcare, Agriculture, transportation and logistics, such sectors are being used daily by billions of customers, while the related tech solutions and startups are booming and penetrating markets like India, Pakistan, China and Egypt. One of the main challenges of such great tech solutions and startups is the computer literacy “the E-adoption” and the myth that technology is a rocket science.

The term “the Next Billion Users (NBU)” is a clear classification given to the segment of users getting online for the first time across the world. A large proportion of the NBU will be in India, Asia in general and Africa, which brings in unique opportunities for startups. These users differ significantly from the earlier ones in their constraints, their context of usage and their behaviors. These users as well should be segmented since new users in Egypt will vary from the ones  in Sri Lanka, For instance, many of these users have phones with limited onboard memory and phones that run older versions of Android. Some of them are using very limited data package, Users often use phones with cracked screens that they cannot afford to fix. Many are comfortable using their local language as an interface while they can speak little English. While many have access to Wi-Fi at home, with good access to social media programs like Facebook.

The below figures from digital 2021 global overview report are saying a lot:

  • +257 million users are joining the internet world every year.
  • Internet users are spending average of 7 hours daily on internet (both computer and mobile devices).
  • Average of 4 hours are the daily time spent on internet using mobile devices.
  • Between 2020 and 2021, +93 million users became a unique mobile user for the first time.
  • Between 2020 and 2021, +490 million users joined the social media.
  • 91.5% are the percentage of the smart phone users from the total internet users.
  • More than 50% of the African population are not internet users (2021 statistics).
  • 58% of southern Asia are not internet users (2021 statistics).

Agriculture users are more vulnerable when it comes to technology, and being focused on the next billion users in Agriculture solutions, it brings up more challenges compared to normal new users where the cultural environment is different, the daily routine is unlike other sectors.

The following Four challenges can be considered the focus of new startups and innovators in AgriTech solutions, Building AgriTech solutions without considering the below points can lead to a fetal failure:

  • Cost:

The internet data package is a main concern to such new segment of users, where any heavy programs or high-resolution photos can impact negatively the data consumption. Startups should consider using the light versions of software, the platforms which can run with minimum data usage and less videos.

  • Connectivity:

The next billion users will have access to internet a home, while less connectivity outside home. This will drive startups and innovators to think proactively in how to run offline, and provide the partial support and functionality without internet and continue the process once the user is connected with Wi-Fi.

  • Digital Literacy:

UI and UX is a key success factor. I can assure that all of them will be using Facebook easily while LinkedIn could be a rocket science for them. The simplicity of scrolling and the easy menu can be a good strategy for AgriTech Solutions.

  • Literacy in General:

Literacy in general is another challenge, can we expect a good English level for the next billion users in AgriTech solutions? I believe the use of local languages and accents will be another key for winning customers and increase your market share.

The Next Billion Users reveals that many assumptions about internet use in developing countries are in need for rethinking and reimagining considering the customer preferences and expectations.

The next billion users in AgriTech solutions will be the game changer with continuous focus on improving productivity and enhancing the agriculture value chain. The next billion users in AgriTech solutions will be another hope to achieve the 2030 SDG’s and the aim for world without hunger.



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احمد شعبان

Business Consultant (COO + Marketing)

Ahmed is a Government Experience strategist with extensive history of delivering successful programs focused on government transformation in the UAE and beyond. With +16 years of professional experience in Government Service development, Service delivery, Customer Experience Strategy, Research & Consultancy, in both government and private sector corporations, where he led different related initiatives in different UAE government enabled by emerging technology. Ahmed is also believing in giving back to community, accordingly he is part of the adjunct faculty of Higher College of Technology in UAE, focusing on building knowledge for the new generation. Ahmed is holding his PhD from IBS-UTM (International Business School - Universiti Teknologi Malaysia) and Bachelor’s Degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Cairo University of Egypt.