Mobiles transforming African Businesses?

In a previous writing Transatlantic Expansion Study in which I looked at different digital strategies used by ecommerce companies in the US and Europe; including mobile shopping, I wanted to further expand this thought into IT and the role of mobile phones in the bustling African economy.

According to Amanda Makulec who published Key Findings from the African Mobile Report (as seen below) argues: “The number of Africans with access to a mobile is higher than those with access to electricity. Across the experts, mPesa was commonly cited as one of the best observed examples of mobile innovation in Africa, and the importance of SMS was referred to repeatedly as a key tool for startups entering the mobile market in Africa today.”

The table highlights the fact that the mobile market in sub-Saharan Africa rests at approximately 60% of the population in 2012. However analysts anticipate growth to 75% penetration by 2016.

The business climate today in Africa 


Are mobiles part of Africa’s business strategy?

Yes, mobiles have transformed the way especially small businesses operate in Africa. Online mobile bank systems have allowed businesses to store and allocate capital with the help of the mobile phone; less costs than opening a traditional bank account. Additionally real time information has increased in importance and helps businesses adjust their strategies to competition, economic climate and unexpected changes. Infact according to The Guardian one of the biggest business innovations in 2012 is the iCowApp. The idea behind this innovation is to provide valuable information via mobile phones for small-scale dairy farmers so that they can appropriately adjust the best strategy for increased milk production –  so as to become an effective business. According to the article below is a mini case study about this particular innovation:

Problem: Small-scale dairy farmers often living in remote areas don’t have access to valuable information about latest prices of milk or cattle, and they may not keep accurate records of important details such as their cows’ gestation periods or their livestock’s lineage – often resulting in inbreeding and disease. Created by Kenyan farmer Su Kahumbu, iCow is an app that works on the type of basic mobile phones farmers own. Each animal is registered with the service, which then sends SMS reminders to the farmer about milking schedules, immunisation dates and tips about nutrition and breeding or information about local vets or artificial insemination providers.  Verdict: “The wonderful thing with iCow is that by the time you have used the app and adhered to all the instructions, your cows end up healthier, bigger and stronger. They can easily fetch you more money in the marketplace. Every smart farmer will use iCow,” a small-scale farmer based in the cental highlands of Kenya told Forbes magazine. Ian Tucker”

Effects of mobile phones 

The latest World Bank report suggests that “mobile phones were directly associated with the creation  of more than 5 million jobs in Africa last year and contributed 7 percent to Africa’s Gross Domestic Product — higher than the global average.” The influence of mobile technology is undeniable – I wonder which sectors – apart from the agriculture and banking systems – can be further influenced by the rise of mobile phones in Africa?


One comment

  1. Very interesting & well-illustrated post.
    I didn’t know that “(..)mobile phones were directly associated with the creation of more than 5 million jobs in Africa last year and contributed 7 percent to Africa’s Gross Domestic Product — higher than the global average.”
    Just incredible!

    I found an interesting graphic how people all over the world use their smartphones:

    Especially the development in the usage of mobile payments is still a big concern. Safety uncertainty and doubts. But looking at Africa, where almost 18million Kenyans use their mobile phones as a bank account – insane.

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