Editorial: How The Mobile Revolution Is Disrupting Africa

Editorial: How The Mobile Revolution Is Disrupting Africa

Access to social networks has given African youth a platform for self-expression and civic participation that is having an impact on elections, governance and accountability, according to a CNN editorial.

From m-commerce to m-health, mobile phones are transforming the lives of Africans in
revolutionary ways, Nmachi Jidenma writes for CNN. Founder of Celebrating Progress Africa, Jidenma writes on technology, innovation in Africa and how the mobile revolution is disrupting Africa.

Mobile experiences are re-creating existing industries, helping the continent narrow the digital divide and helping its young people take the lead in adopting mobile technology solutions, Jidenma said.

Twitter, Facebook and crisis-mapping technologies such as Ushahidi have helped mobilize communities and improve government responsiveness to the plight of young people.

As smartphones lower information barriers across Africa, young people are empowering themselves by organizing into influential youth online communities and demanding better leadership.

Mobile phones are revolutionizing financial services in Africa. Much has been written about
M-PESA’s success in Kenya — a global success story in the area of mobile
payments with more than 18 million active users.

In East Africa, mobile banking has leapfrogged traditional banking, allowing previously unbanked consumers to receive remittances and also to send money to loved ones.

In Nigeria — Africa’s largest mobile phone market with more than 120 million subscribers — startup company Paga is dominating the country’s nascent mobile payments scene, growing by an estimated 847 percent in its first full year of operation.

The company’s potential scale is massive given the number of mobile subscribers in Africa’s second-largest economy. Increased access to financial markets is enabling capital
accumulation through savings and affordable credit and is playing a leading role in helping
reduce poverty, Jidenma said.

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Mobile phones are revolutionizing critical sectors of the economy such as education, healthcare, agriculture and retail.

Mobile phones are revolutionizing Africa’s retail sector. Mobile commerce is helping build the continent’s retail sector by connecting young, tech-savvy consumers in far-flung areas with urban goods.

In many parts of Africa, organized retail penetration remains low and informal channels
dominate the vast majority of retail transactions. Innovative retail programs which are just taking off in Western markets, such as shopping online and picking up goods at centralized locations are growing in countries like South Africa.

Mobile commerce is accelerating Africa’s retail future by leapfrogging the need for capital-
intensive mall infrastructure and hastening the establishment of strong logistic networks and demand-fulfillment centers, Jidenma said.

In education, digital books can help improve literacy rates and enable young people to
improve skills. Organizations such as Worldreader and Binu are improving access to digital content in Africa by connecting millions of young Africans with e-books on their mobile devices.

Services such as MAMA are helping to improve maternal health by providing access to healthcare information and medical service providers.

Access to agricultural tips, real-time market prices and weather information through services such as Esoko are transforming the lives of smallholder farmers who still make up about 65 percent of the continent’s workforce.