Introducing the “FREI Economy”: Our bold move to liberate Africa’s digital tribes.

Oct 16, 2018 · 4 min read

Far beyond the clunky web pages of Web 1.0, to the deeply personal and mass proliferation of Web 2.0 through social media, the internet now stands at a different vantage point to where it was 20 years ago. This shift is more significant. The power is now truly in the hands of the internet’s users.

Digital tribes, an evolution of the so-called “digital natives” of Web 2.0, are driving massive change in how people of common interest form bonds to create and share value through the internet. In the Web 3.0 revolution, value is created and shared across networks and in communities (digital tribes).

This is a distinct difference from the internet of yesteryear, instead, the internet of today is predicated on openness and the freedom to create, all aided by our everchanging social and technological landscape.

FREI’s burning ambition is in this context. We want to liberate Africa’s digital tribes to create and share value by enabling them to go digital.

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We have distinctly decided not to call ourselves a “mobile virtual network enabler” because our work goes far beyond the traditional MVNE offering. Instead, we’ve opted to call ourselves a “digital virtual network enabler”. This reinforces our purpose which is: to harness the power of technology and new business models to help African brands and communities achieve prosperity.

So, unlike a traditional MVNE, our focus is not to offer you a suite services to simply turn your brand into a mobile virtual network operator. We go beyond that, we enable you, through our commercial and digital platform, to become more attuned to your customers and find new ways of creating and sharing value in what we call the FREI economy.

Whilst there much talk about the positive impact of the “digital economy” (in fact, some have even started talking about the “new digital economy”), there are many notable criticisms of what the “digital economy” has failed to do. Trust, for example, a central tenet on which technological advancement must thrive, is now more important more than ever. There is a sense that people — you and I — have become mere guinea pigs in this everchanging technological world. Our data is sourced, shared and utilised, at times, with little consideration, for gains that may seem commercially viable, but don’t always necessarily put people (consumers, members of organisations and communities) at the centre of it all.

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Added to this, some argue that the promise of a liberated internet, where value is created, and prosperity is shared, has failed. And while we have made great strides in innovating old business models through technology, the risk of exacerbating inequality, in the context of the persisting digital divide, has to force us to think differently.

This is why we at FREI have been bold enough to coin the concept of the FREI Economy.

This idea is not meant to be yet another buzzword, splashed on website and glossy brochures. Instead, it signifies our commitment to Africa’s curious, creative and entrepreneurial digital tribes who are yearning for digital offerings that speak to who they are and their aspirations.

Through FREI, everyone will be able to offer and make use of API services from others, i.e. insurance, financial or media products. This broad partner ecosystem will better leverage an open and extensible MVNO model. This ability to cross-pollinate each other on the FREI platform is precisely why we have coined the term the “FREI Economy”.

The FREI Economy is built on the recognition that people desire freedom: the freedom to create value and share it. In the FREI Economy, a brand is liberated through digital transformation tools that enable them to add value to their core offering.

We believe that brands have a role to play here. Brands in their broadest sense — like churches, soccer clubs, traditional retailers and insurance companies — forge an emotive resonance with their customers over time, but somehow fail to fully understand them and cater to their needs.

In the FREI Economy, interactions between a brand and customers goes beyond the design of a traditional MVNE play. Our FinTech capability enables you to develop wallet and payment products for your customers, our digital platform allows customers to create and syndicate content that truly resonates who they are, all while enabling them to become part of a marketplace where value is created and shared.

By digitally enabling African brands, FREI is rooted on building deeper, valuable and more meaningful digital interactions with Africa’s digital tribes. This, for us, is a blueprint for a better digital future for the African continent. One where people are placed at the center once more.

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