Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Africa goes Mobile in a different way

        Interesting! how mobile phone has become common in Africa now. A few years ago, very few people used mobile phones and it was basically an fancy device used to show status and class (yes! class) in society. Now, in just less than a decade, mobile phone has evolved from being a luxury toy to becoming a very important companion that urban Africans can't do without. Though Africa has become the fastest growing mobile market in then world, Falling tariffs and ultra-low-cost mobile handsets in other parts of the world have curtailed aggressive roll-outs by mobile operators and this will see the current rate of subscriber addition maintained in already developed markets.

        Apropos these trends, an interesting twist has taken place in the way mobile phones will be used in the very near future especially in Africa. Major attention has gone into the use a mobile phone as a payment platform.....yes payment platform. This is a a very interesting concept considering the fact that the most of Africa has not even come to terms with the credit card systems or better yet most Africa is very much a 'cash' society rendering a credit card is almost useless. ATM cards are probably the best cashless method you get but bare in mind that machines are few and far apart in most cases.
This makes the idea of mobile payment platforms an even brilliant idea and very important for African economies. Many mobile operators are venturing into this sector to maximize profit and keep their subscribers happy with the most obvious problem being that transactions, though cashless, can only take place between users of the same operator/network. However there are operator-independent payment platforms that enables transactions across networks and operators.
This is an interesting area in the mobile market because mobile phones has become a companion of a regular African but there are questions that need to be answered about literacy and acceptance by the majority of the African populace. Poverty and illiteracy in Africa are both at high levels a problem arises on how they can effectively use these mobile platforms if it is to serve the entire continent well. Also whether or not people will totally embrace this new concept is a question that will best be answered in the future. Whatever happens, a lot of education and sensitization will go in to achieve acceptance and usage.

       It is also imperative that I write about this other awesome dimension that the mobile usage has taken. And this is in the area of market information. These are amazing new systems that literary puts the much needed African market information on a mobile phone. With the African market system being a somewhat disorganize and making it difficult to gather and interpret information properly, the major challenge bearer of this concept will be how to successfully get all these information together accurately. But the total realization such a technology on a mobile phone has started and will, given time massively affect economies of nations on the continent and livelihoods of individuals. Just think of how beneficial being able to get or upload prices of goods anywhere at anytime will be to the individuals not to talk of benefit to governments and other institutions in decision making and research.

       Now, if this is not awesome, then i don't know what is. Imagine how it would feel like if you can stay I bed and make payment of bills or walk in town will your money on a phone just like a credit card and oh you can get the price of anything, anywhere, anytime!!!(yeah that's what I'm talking about ;)). The possibilities are endless, just endless........
Note that these are not an exhaustive report about technologies that are empowering mobile phone usage in Africa and the world over but this should give you an idea of the excitement that some of these technologies are bringing to the African continent

    The implications of the mobile phone have yet to be fully realized. "Whether enabling insight into human behavior or empowering economic opportunities, the mobile phone is one of the most "transformive" technologies of our time"

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