Weekly Review June 27 – July 1


This Weekly Review includes stories on a key industry trend: mobile penetration in Africa lending itself to financial inclusion and economic and social development. 
via Afrographique 

Mobile phones in Africa” by Ivan Colic via Afrographique 
We recently came across the blog Afrographique by Ivan Colic. Colic collects data from reliable sources like the World Bank or the IMF, and presents the information in aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-understand format. Check out his site to see many more colorful and informative infographics to gain some insight on Africa and its people. His most recent post tells us that “in 2011, there are 32 non-smart phones for every 1 smart phone” in Africa. By 2015, the gap will close slightly to “5.6 non-smart phones for every 1 smart phone.”

Activate 2011: Mobiles look set to play a big role in Africa’s development” by Madeleine Bunting via The Guardian
At the current growth rate, everyone in Africa will have a mobile phone by 2020 (Praekelt Foundation). Relatedly, economic development in Africa is expected to rise dramatically over the next five to ten years. Mobile phones will lend themselves to significant economic and social development and “the race is on to find what mobiles can do in areas as disparate as public health, governance and education.” Mobile money and Internet access are perhaps two of the most significant development leaps made possible in rural areas where banking and educational services are limited. Bunting describes many other examples of the benefits of mobile phone penetration in Africa, even if the most popular phone is the basic Nokia with nothing fancier than SMS capabilities.

Mobile banking services to help two billion people by 2020” by Fredrick Onyango via Business Daily Africa
A recent Boston Consulting Group study reports that mobile money services will provide financial inclusion for two billion people by 2020 and drive development in emerging markets, especially Africa. Financial inclusion fosters “entrepreneurship, new business creation and new jobs.” The report found that the need for mobile money is great: “some 72 per cent of the population in developing countries are without access to banks or credit cards.” Many mobile money services are leading the way for social and economic development, including most famously M-PESA and our own portfolio company, SlimTrader.

Teachers to Receive Salaries Via Mobile Money in Rwanda” by Bosco R. Asiimwe via Mobile Money Africa
Africa is notorious for slow-moving money. In an effort to pay teachers on time, the Teachers’ Credit and Savings Cooperative – Umwalimu SACCO will employ mobile money transfer services to pay their staff. In the past, teachers had to make long, expensive, and time-consuming journeys to collect their paychecks. This is another example of a simple solution with mobile phones that saves a lot of time, effort, and money that can now be spent elsewhere. The article notes that some teachers may invest in solar panels with their savings.

Mobile money coming to Ethiopia” via Mobile Money Africa
M-Birr is the newest mobile money service provider in Africa, finally bringing services to Ethiopia. M-Birr’s parent firm is NCL Technologies, an Irish company. The government has historically controlled Ethiopia’s ICT industry. Late last year, the Ethiopian government hired France Telecom to manage the newly restructured Ethio Telecom. Ethio Telecom is the only ICT provider in Ethiopia, the country with the fifth-fastest growing economy worldwide according to The Economist. Ethiopia’s mobile subscriber base is growing and the government is investing in national infrastructure to facilitate and meet the demand for mobile technology including Internet access and mobile money services like the ones offered by M-Birr. 

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