MMU releases infographic on Kenyan mobile money journey

Flag of Kenya

Flag of Kenya (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Nairobi jostles with the likes of Accra, Lagos and Johannesburg to become the continent’s technical innovation hub, mobile money continues to drive the Kenyan economy and is at the forefront of reaching the unbanked. Mobile money started as a simple money transfer system driven by a lack of entrenched financial systems and operates through a vast system of mobile money agents, enabling people to “cash in” and “cash out” using their mobile device. Safaricom’s hugely successful M-PESA is synonymous with the term mobile money, and has since launched in other countries in Africa as well as India, and now allows users to pay for goods and services using their mobile device.

The Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) is a department within the GSMA and works with mobile operators and the financial industry to accelerate the access to financial services across the developing world. The following link is an infographic highlighting the Kenyan journey from 2006 to today, and outlines the exponential rise of mobile money.

Highlights of the report are are:

23m Mobile Money users in Kenya. 74% of the adult population

31% of Kenyan GDP transacted through mobile money services

96,319 mobile money agents in Kenya


Lagos vies with Nairobi to become region’s tech hub

Lagos Island and part of Lagos Harbour, taken ...

Lagos Island and part of Lagos Harbour, taken from close to Victoria Island, looking north-west (NB this is not Ikoyi Bay as wrongly labelled elsewhere) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The bustling, metropolitan city of Lagos in Nigeria has an ever growing population of some 8m people and is the country’s economic powerhouse making a significant contribution to its overall GDP. The port city is a city of islands connected by ferries and highways and is the capital of Lagos State. The standard of living is relatively high compared to many cities in Africa and, despite problems such as pollution and gridlocked city traffic, people flock to Lagos from far and wide in Africa with an estimated 30,000 people arriving everyday.

Lagos aspires to be, alongside Accra, Cape Town and Nairobi one of the continent’s tech powerhouses. Indeed, May’s three day Mobile Web West Africa event sold out its Lagos conference, bringing together companies, startups, inspiring investors and developers. The three-day event was the background to the emerging economic and inspired power of the region, and is a statement of intent to be at the centre of mobile innovation.

There are countless examples of centres of innovation cropping up in Lagos. Co Creation Hub is a collaborative work space for young entrepreneurs and is dedicated to accelerating the application of technology for economic prosperity. Individuals converge in one space to share ideas. They even have the chance to meet VCs and angels looking for promising investments. However, such meetup hubs compete with others around the continent. Nairobi has the iHub, a similar space, supported by companies like Google, Intel and Samsung. Nairobi has also recently begun construction of the much discussed Konza City, or ‘Silicon Savannah’ as it is often called. This is a project to build Africa’s most modern city with technology and innovation at the centre and will potentially be a blueprint for further African cities.

In Nigeria, mobile is also being used to reach the poorest and help economic and social prosperity. A mobile SMS educational tool has recently launched aimed at providing primary school teachers with regular updates on educational content to assist with classroom teaching. Launched by UNESCO, the technology will be available to anyone in Nigeria and will send teachers messages with educational information and advice once a day. The project should reach thousands of teachers across the country, who were previously out of reach and simply lacked the resources to teach effectively. Mobile SMS is a step in the right direction.

In Nigeria, and many of the major cities in Africa, there is a sense that anything is possible and the continent is ripe for investment and full of opportunity. A lack of traditional infrastructure is helping drive entrepreneurship, in mobile especially, and suggest that Africa will be the continent of the 21st century.

Technology crucial to Accra’s continued development

English: Photo of the Independence Arch in Acc...

English: Photo of the Independence Arch in Accra, Ghana, built to commemorate Ghana’s independence. The national motto, Freedom and Justice is boldly inscribed at the top of the arch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ghana is often seen as a shining example of democracy and progress in Africa and is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. A recent report from IBM, A Vision for Smarter Growth, has highlighted the importance of technology in the West African country’s continued economic progress and urban development. The country faces significant challenges having experienced significant demographic growth and rapid urbanisation in recent years and the IBM report highlights how technology could help the country overcome these.

The report highlights a couple of areas in which mobile technology could help. The potential use of mobile phone data could offer an accurate insight into how people currently move around the city and enable town planners to enhance the city’s current transport system. In addition, mobile payments could help the city’s residents pay tax more easily as well as highlight any underpayments or fraud.

Africa is the fastest growing mobile Market in the world, and Ghana is at the centre of innovations within the technology and mobile markets. IBM and Airtel have recently joined forces to open a Mobile Centre of Excellence in Ghana, which is the first of it’s kind in West Africa. The new facility aims to offer students access to cutting edge mobile technologies to drive innovation across Ghana in mobile services and applications. Two more centres are planned for Kenya and Nigeria later in the year.

The use of mobile technology to assist in Accra’s rapid urbanisation is an excellent example of how mobile can assist in ways far beyond simple calls and Internet access, and demonstrates the technology’s versatility. In addition, IBM and Airtel’s partnership in developing centres of mobile innovation across Africa should help Africa’s continued innovation in mobile and demonstrate the continent’s technological potential.

Is Kenya Africa’s tech headquarters?

English: A lone giraffe in Nairobi National Park.

English: A lone giraffe in Nairobi National Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Africa is a continent that is young, vibrant and full of investment opportunities. Despite recent events in Central Africa, projects like iHub in Kenya offer an alternative picture of a bright future with a focus on technological innovation. Without the red tape and embedded infrastructure that can hamper European and US growth, Africa has been quick to develop solutions such as mobile banking. Africa may also be first in line to take advantage of NFC payments, which seem some way off elsewhere.

The iHub centre in Nairobi is an example of this ambition and is a tech community space providing opportunity for entrepreneurs to receive mentorship and potential VC funding. In addition, January this year saw the launch of the US funded Konza Technology City just outside Nairobi.

As other African cities such as Lagos, Accra and Cape Town jostle for position as Africa’s principal technology hub, it may well be Kenya that leads the way.