Mobile access has democratised technology and allows people to communicate across geographical borders as well as acting as a social glue from a personal point of view as well as a broader societal perspective. Nowhere is this point more prevalent than in Africa.
Below are several key points derived from a recent report entitled ‘Mobile Trends 2020 Africa’ which was put together by various industry experts, as well as my response to each point.
The African market will see a flood of cheap smartphones allowing access to online information and social networks which could have an impact on the democracy of a country
We all saw the impact of social networking, particularly Twitter, during the Arab Spring. The mobile device and is use as a mass communication tool also had an impact on the recent elections in Kenya, previously marred by mass violence, by means of monitoring results and diffusing ethnic tensions. Finally, mobile technology can also be used by politicians to communicate with its electorate and open up information on policies.
Smartphones will replace the need for physical banks, as mobile makes banking a far easier process
The success of Kenya ‘s M-PESA has been well documented and has opened up banking services to large numbers of people in parts of Africa and Asia. Africa is the hotbed of Mobile money activity, and the continent counts 15 of the top 20 countries by mobile money usage. It’s success has been such that it will also soon be launching in India.
Concerns are rightfully being raised around security, however the potential benefits to millions of’ unbanked’ people surely outweigh the risks, and opening up mobile money access acts as a tool of empowerment allowing people and businesses to prosper.
In addition, mobile devices are being used to prevent corruption, in places like Ivory Coast and Afghanistan, as mobile money payments ensure that workers get their full pay and the m-transfer prevents management from taking ‘tips’.
Mobile and associated technologies will ensure Africa acts as a hub of innovation
There are countless examples of this, the most prominent one being Kenya’s Silicon Savannah which will provide employment and act as a centre of innovation for the region, this follows on from Kenyan technological breakthroughs such as M-PESA and Ushahidi. In addition, projects like the iHub in Kenya offer an alternative picture of a bright future for the continent with a focus on technological innovation.
- The success of Kenya’s M-PESA – a short video (mobileinthedevelopingworld.wordpress.com)
- The crucial role of Mobile in Africa (mobileinthedevelopingworld.wordpress.com)
- Kenya’s iCow (mobileinthedevelopingworld.wordpress.com)
- Democratic Republic of Congo – Mobile Banking on the up (mobileinthedevelopingworld.wordpress.com)
- M-Pesa arrives in India (mobileinthedevelopingworld.wordpress.com)