What are APIs?
According to Webopedia, an API (Application Program Interface) is a set of routines, protocols and tools for building software applications. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing building blocks which a developer puts together to make a more robust software. Just like your normal phone apps are made for the users, APIs are made for other application software. They are made to be utilized by other larger software. That is to say APIs are software applications made to talk with each other. They can also be referred to as machine readable interfaces. Similarly, API economy (application programming interface economy) is a general term that describes the way application programming interfaces (APIs) can positively affect an organization’s profitability according to TechTarget.
The importance of APIs today cannot be over emphasized; it has given developers the power to develop complex applications in a considerably shorter period of time. An API can be likened to an electric socket through which electricity is supplied to other appliances. All anyone who wants electricity needs to do to get electricity from this socket is to plug the appliance into the ports of the socket that already installed. This is the same way an API works; they provide a particular service which a developer can plug into to power larger software instead of coding from the scratch. Developers these days rarely write codes for software from the scratch.
For instance, you may have noticed severally on different platforms, when signing up or registering on a new website, most times they provide an option for logging into the platform using your already existing social media account. This saves a lot of time for the user when signing up and also the developer is saved some time too. This is possible because the respective social media platforms have provide developers API with which they can use to develop their applications. APIs have provided an opportunity for developers to be more productive that they would have been otherwise thereby enabling them to focus on other aspects of the application development while outsourcing other functionalities to the API. The growth of the APIs economy is largely dependent on service providers that complete to address the hunger for greater productive of developers by packing complex functionalities into reasonable API based component. This gives developers the opportunity to put together innovative software solutions in a very short period of time which usually takes months or even years to build. This not only favors developers but business can now make heavy software for users win a short period of time which has a large impact in enabling businesses make decisions and measure outcomes. The world over, APIs have been known to be a major growth drivers of business and economy in the developed world. This is because APIs give business the power to automated and easily make their products and services to the rest of the world.
The Nigerian API Economy
NCC data shows that there is about 95% mobile penetration in Nigeria where 69% of the penetration is from feature phones and telcos are yet to cash in on mobile subscribers that use feature phone.
The Group Special Mobile Association (GSMA) in their July 2016 report pointed out that Telecomm Operators(Telcos) can tap into the emerging markets, that is, the feature phone users in remote areas yet un-served with internet by making their APIs available, so startups can build innovative products targeted at them . The reports show that more penetration can be achieved if the telecomm operators partner with startups and developer communities to provide these solutions. This is because startups understand the market and can be able to meet their needs leveraging the API technology. Telcos in other African countries are already utilizing this opportunity building worthwhile partnership with startups.
A strong proponent for adoption of disruptive technologies in Africa, Alozie David, in his article discussed in full details how the telcos can benefit from and improve the lives of about 600million un-served people in Africa using the API technology.
Click here to access the article. He pointed out exhaustively the implications the disruption taking place in the telecomm industry will have on the telecos if they don’t seat up.
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