Mussa Kalokola On The State Of UX Design In Africa

Mussa Kalokola On The State Of UX Design In Africa

Designwhine Interviews Mussa Kalokola

Mussa is a product designer and leader with a love for simplicity. He has been helping organizations and businesses in Africa in designing meaningful experiences for their digital products since 2017. He has been fortunate to co-found award-winning and grant-winning startups that led him into excellent incubators programs around the world.

How would you summarize the state of UX Design in Africa in 2021?

While the majority of the budget goes to advertising rather than R&D, for so long African organizations (Tanzanian based) have made it through without or little investment in UX Design. Things are changing now, digital transformation is rapid throughout organizations, from private entities to the government. Recently we are seeing global UX Fintech agency UXDA working with a local organization, it is quite impressive to witness.

Africa boasts some of the world’s fastest rising economies, yet it hardly has any organisations designing exceptional UX. Your thoughts?

Specifically, in Tanzania, the innovation culture is still slow, thus the majority of the budget will be directed to advertising in order to push on sales for products/services that are already selling.

According TCCIA 95% of businesses are SME’s in Tanzania, to them its quite expensive to innovate and often seen as a luxury by the business owners.

What is the most significant challenge that African professionals considering a career change in UX Design face and how do you personally tackle it?

The core problem is that UX design in Africa is perceived as the act of decorating something rather than providing a solution to a particular problem.

This can be traced to the fact there isn’t a design school in Tanzania, atleast Kenya is steps ahead of Tanzania in terms of design due to the presence of such schools like the Nairobi Design Institute.

This reflects the job opportunities that a UX Designer has in Tanzania, most organizations hire generalists, a jack of all trades. Having the knowledge of design alone will take you ages to get hired, you either have to have graphic design skills that can be reused in advertising or coding skills such that you will be assigned a software development role.

In spite of all this, when a local organization suffers a design problem that they need an expert they are higher chances an expatriate will get the job.

In terms of knowledge, I acquired them on Youtube on channels like chunbuns and AJ&Smart and also read books and blogs and lastly, I’m about to enrol at Interaction Design Foundation for a more structured course.

In terms of job opportunities, I started working with international companies that are present locally like UNESCO and Palladium Group that value the design process and later own I started working with local companies after becoming credible.

In your opinion, how can the global UX community help foster UX Design in Africa?

Technology has made the world one big village, the global UX community should keep on sharing the knowledge and experience especially the process and not only the output and provide remote internships opportunities for Africans.

This article was last updated on November 26, 2023; Originally published on November 16, 2021

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