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How Much Does Creating a New App Cost in South Africa?

February 21, 2024

Building start to finish for up to 95% cheaper than US or Europe, this is how much building a new app costs in South Africa.

From concept to launch, how does building a new app cost in South Africa?

It’s important because you want to get a good price but still deliver a product that can help you achieve unicorn status. The best part is that we can generally build things quite a bit more cost-effectively in South Africa than you would be able to do overseas – great for local products but also a good reason for internationals to take note of, thanks to our favourable exchange rate.

Also, see why it's important in our roundup of the impact of digital transformation on South African businesses, the ultimate MVP method for e-commerce and a look at the future opportunities in mobile app development.

At Specno, we’re known for delivering exceptional quality at speed, so we explore...

How much does building a new app cost in South Africa?

In most cases, we can create and deploy an entirely new, fully functional MVP app for between R740 000 in 4 months, more complex builds at R1.4m in 6–8 months, and upwards from there for extremely customised full-code builds. 

This is an amazing value because it’s between 60% and 95% cheaper than building the same product in the US or Europe. It includes your product concept validation, system scoping, system design, UX/UI design, and building (actual software development).

You essentially have two broad approach options:

  • Option 1: Low-Code: Concept Validation + Low-Code: Includes design and is best suited for prototyping and MVPs, simple apps, internal tools, etc.
  • Option 2: Full-Code: Concept Validation + App Design + App Development: 100% custom builds.

We’ve done a full app creation cost breakdown for you:

App development cost calculator

Pro concept validation at R90k

Validating a new product idea through Specno’s full-service concept validation is R90 000 (more flexible options coming soon). That’s start-to-finish, with everything you need to 1) know the market for your product, 2) how to reach them, 3) how to build the product, and 4) a detailed plan to scale that business to where you need it to be in the next 12–18 months. 

Plus: You get a a pitch deck you can take almost as-is to apply for funding. It’s like plug-and-play for founders. See here why you need to test an app idea first and how long it takes to validate your idea.

Low-code development (including UX/UI and Design) from R650k

Low-code allows us to deploy MVPs 3 times faster and much cheaper than normal full-code projects – and you can start off most new apps using low-code development first, then do full-code versions later (if needed). Low-code includes both UX/UI design and development, and run around R649 400 for a 3-month MVP build, upwards to R1.3m all inclusive for highly complex 6-month-odd builds.

Though it’s not immediately apparent, this method is on average up to 60% cheaper than building full-code and almost 95% cheaper than building the same product full-code in the US and UK.

Also, there are various options, in terms of timing and whether development is continuous or not, so there are opportunities to customise how your project is built. See the full story on low-code development cost.

Full-Code Development

For full-code development projects, you need dedicated App Design and Development time and costs, which is a little more involved because it’s so customised…

App Design from est. R150k

They say UX and UI design can make or break your product – it doesn’t matter how good your tech is, if people struggle with the interface or it doesn’t appeal to them, they don’t want to use it. That’s why professional app design takes about 1 month for simpler apps at R150 000 and up to 3 months at R300 000 for highly complex products.

It’s generally around 41% cheaper to have us do your UX/UI in South Africa, compared to the same project in the US and UK. See here the complete breakdown of your app design cost.

App Development from est. R1.2m

Again, dependent on your scoring and requirements. Building a new app full-code takes anywhere between 3 months at around R1.2m depending on specs for a simpler product and 12 months upwards on complex products in the R4.3m range, for app development and/or web app development.

There are obviously a number of variables and options here, though, and it’s generally around 25% cheaper to have us build in in South Africa, compared to the US and UK. See the complete timeline, breakdown and phases of your app development cost

Also see the guide to scaling software, an in-depth exploration of new app development, a look at the future opportunities in mobile app development and what you need to know about Android app development.

Get us to develop your app

There’s a lot that goes into developing an app that actually works the first time, and that’s why we at Specno spent years building one of the best multi-speciality app development teams.

Onto the next big thing? Let’s build it…

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Specno Team