An open letter to Google from an African software developer

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Mobile phones are at the centre of modern life, so it’s hardly surprising that mobile application development is a massive industry, offering opportunities to people all over the world who have the skills and imagination to create this software.
This applies to developers working on apps for all mobile operating systems including Google’s Android, but not everyone who shares their app on Google Play gets paid for these efforts.
For developers in Africa, Google Payments, which handles the activation of accounts used for payments made for content distributed on Google Play, only supports merchant registration for 2 countries; Egypt and Nigeria. This has forced developers to figure out workarounds that include selling their apps on other platforms like Amazon or registering accounts overseas.

Gedion Moyo, a local developer who’s created his fair share of apps, has decided to draw attention to this exclusion and has started a petition on Change.org. He has published an open letter to Google and in it he outlines the challenge faced by developers who want to monetise their efforts rather than rely on donations.

Moyo hopes that the petition will grab the attention of the right people and that he can drum up the right sort of support through this petition. You can read his full letter below and follow the link to his petition if you are keen on supporting his efforts.
Dear Google,
My name is Gedion Moyo, I am an African Software Developer from Zimbabwe. And I am writing this to ask you to please allow Software Developers from Africa to get paid 🙂
Currently, only developers from Nigeria and Egypt can receive payments for their apps, the rest of us can only list apps on the Google Play Store for free, hoping against reality… that somehow the app will become the next WhatsApp and get bought…
I applaud the excellent philanthropic work being done by Eric Schmidt, Bill Gates, President Bill Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg and others to help Africa. But for some of us to really grow, what we need are not donations but channels to monetize our work and stand on our own feet.
I have started the petition below in the hope that I can get your attention. But being an individual player in a world dominated by major corporate players, this again, is my hope against reality.
https://www.change.org/p/google-inc-eric-schmitt-google-sundar-pichai-help-african-software-developers-monetize-on-google-play-store?recruiter=455802894&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink
Best Regards,



14 Comments

  1. Ignored Techie says:

    While I support the petition the reality is that paid apps don’t get much traction on Google Play Store. My advise is to give away the app for free but incorporate some sort of in-app purchases. You then process these in-app purchases via local online payment platforms like PayAlive, PayNow etc.

    1. Gedion Moyo says:

      Thank you for your voice, it is true that “some” paid apps don’t get much traction! What I am asking is just the chance for us to compete in the “other” category. Maybe that’s too much to ask for??

    2. Anonymous says:

      Have you used payalive or know anyone using it on android? whats the experience like?

  2. G says:

    Merchant registration is possible in South Africa also

    1. Gedion Moyo says:

      Thanks Greg for the update, perhaps Google needs to update their list of supported countries at: https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/table/3539140?hl=en

      1. G says:

        You are right no paid apps in Zimbabwe & South Africa
        Hello Greg,

        Thank you for contacting the Google Payments Merchant Team.

        We appreciate your interest in Google Payments Merchant Center however, sign up is not available in Zimbabwe or South Africa. We’re looking to enable new seller countries all the time, but cannot provide any specific timelines for when your country will be available. Please refer to this link for the complete list of countries we currently support.

        For the meantime, we can only publish free apps in Zimbabwe and South Africa. We’re working on having Google Payments Merchant Center widely available so please look forward to our future updates.
        Thank you again for your continued support. Have a nice day!

        Kind regards,

        Joseph
        The Google Payments Merchant Team

  3. Gedion Moyo says:

    Thank you Nigel and TechZim for the support, really appreciated!

  4. Croco Burger says:

    Why do they not currently allow payments to us?

  5. Tinashe says:

    I am signing the petition and will help in getting as many signatures as possible.

  6. Shark says:

    Hubs will come on board for this one. I am confident the petition will generate enough signatures.

  7. ZimPlay says:

    Solutions that come from thinking outside the box pays more than those that have all the advantages. Just start your own Virtual Play Store that rides on top of it. I realized most Amazon Apps dont usually rely on Google Play. Why should you be an exception. Take advantage of this opportunity and be a competitor. Google was never big when it started, why not believe in that. There is a reason why you are limited. It might be a blessing in disguise. Dont get surprised to realize that you may be the only one seeing that and noone will bother to extend their eyes to that vision.

  8. macd chip says:

    Its a numbers games! Google, Facebook, Whatsapp etc reaction to market are driven by numbers. Check the population of Egypt, 82.06 million and Nigeria 173.6 million people then compare that to Zim, 14.15 million of which less than 3 million actively use internet.Its business, you go and promote your business where you are going to likely get enough retains.

    Having said that, l think you need all the support you can get and the pertition is a good start( I signed) even though all the odds are stuck against us. Consider how easy it is to start business in Zim and how hard we are working scaring away the investors.

  9. DK says:

    Signed we also need to call upon others, especialy RBZ to work on a payments. These are the giys who comes running when someone brings an innovation into the banking sector but are not taking an active approach in solving the challenges.

  10. Soshie says:

    I will save my dream i just want to be an app developer . Itz time for us Zimbabwean developers to invest online ,we should raise our voices . This is big business and i know HALFBRICK a development unit of only two members invested more than 4 million from Ios alone ,since 2011. But i guess Alphabet holding will respond by offering a ‘a hail Mary ‘,to us African android developers . Mr Moyo although there is nothing i recommend you to publish you apps on the play store ,waiting for Alphabet (google) response. This will make your apps to be popular among consumers . The other thing is android fans are not that strong in paying apps than IOS ones . Ios fans have a lot of cash and knowledge ,when publishing your apps use ads for android and in app purchase for iphone …. I hope this will work too . Do not give up . Halfbrick invested much from the game fruit ninja i guess you know it . Help me if you hath some ideas [email protected]

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