Erik Hersman blogs about Zach Lutische, a man with an interesting concept envisioned for rural Kenya.
“The concept involves putting up a network of rural billboards around Kenya, using them as a way to gather and create a nexus point for community information. Anyone in the village can put up a notice, news or advertisement on a village billboard by going through a site manager. There is an opportunity to sell message space on billboards in other towns, using the mobile information pathways open by these operators. Billboard operators can be connected locally, regionally and nationally. End users will have the ability to find goods and services available via digital format. The concept marries the worlds of non-technical rural Africa with that of modernized urban Africa.”
This concept holds real potential for companies and non governmental organizations (NGOs) from a supply chain perspective as the need for increased visibility is one of they key challenges in emerging markets.
Reduce out of stock – visibility will allow distributors and suppliers to determine product availability and potential demand. Mobile information can provide an important inventory management system for companies struggling to understand the demand in their rural outlet base.
Load consolidation – many companies do not deliver to rural areas as companies normally struggle to make the financial numbers work with less than truck load (LTL) deliveries. With increased visibility, logistics companies can consolidate loads from various suppliers and reduce distribution cost in the process. A central location can also be used as a cross-docking site serving a network of villages in the area.
Sharing of information – this will hold real benefits to farmers in the various villages as they can share knowledge about market prices and carrier costs (distribution). Companies and NGOs also will have an improved way to communicate with villagers on the ground.
Market days – African village trade revolves around market days. Many suppliers and service providers are unaware of market day schedules and the billboard(s) will make it easier for buyers and sellers to find each other.