I have been checking out this food delivery app this morning and I am intrigued by its potential and what it says about Africa’s digital solutions for the continent’s emerging digital economies. I exchanged emails with the company this morning about their app:
Hellofood operates in 6 African countries and in South America as well. In other regions we are operating under Foodpanda’s name. It represents globally a presence in 27 countries. The application was launched a few months ago and has quickly penetrated the market. In most African countries, the app is number 1 in food category.
The first thing that stuck out at me relates to something I wrote about this week about online payment systems. Specifically this:
I’ll wager that as mobile carrier-provided payment services become more interoperable between networks and border-less, we’ll begin to see a lot more money moving across borders. If this can be accomplished within the next 5 years, Africa will finally have solved the question of how to pay for things. Innovations in the financial sector enabling seamless payment services could spring quite a number of consumer-focused startups.
Hellofood allows you to order food in specific cities in six African countries. What it doesn’t do is allow you to pay for the food online. You pay for it when it arrives. I think this is probably the only way an app like this would work for this service in an African context. Food delivery isn’t a new thing. Most food kiosks in major African cities will deliver food to an office so you can eat at your desk. You pay when you are done eating and they take the plate away. I enjoyed this service when I was working out of Hive Colab in Uganda earlier this year.
What this app offers is a centralized ordering system where you get to customize what comes to you and extends the service (presumably) to home delivery. It also offers brick and mortar restaurants & presumably any street food vendor the ability to upload their menu and have it instantly accessible to anyone with the app.
On a final note, kudos to the team for customizing their site to each of those countries. But man, that’s going to be a lot of work if they are planning to expand to the other 48 countries!