Africa

African Mobile Observatory 2011 : Driving Economic and Social Development through Mobile Services

Title: African Mobile Observatory 2011 : Driving Economic and Social Development through Mobile Services
Author Editor: Tom Phillips, Peter Lyons, Mark Page, Laurent Viviez, Dr. Maria Molina, Tim Ensor
Pages: 58 pp.
Publisher: GSM Association
Date (published): 09/11/2011
Date (accessed): 17/11/2011
Type of information: report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"The mobile industry in Africa is booming. With over 620 million mobile connections as of September 2011, Africa has overtaken Latin America to become the second largest mobile market in the world, after Asia. Over the past 10 years, the number of mobile connections in Africa has grown an average of 30% per year and is forecast to reach 735 million by the end of 2012.

Fierce competition has driven down prices and increased penetration. Price wars have been common across the continent as operators compete for market share with innovative revenue and pricing options - operators have reduced prices an average of 18% between 2010 and 2011, making mobile connectivity more broadly affordable to the masses. 96% of subscriptions are pre-paid with voice services currently dominating, however the uptake of data services is increasing rapidly. For example in Kenya data revenues, including SMS, have increased at a remarkable 67% CAGR over the last 4 years and now represent 26% of total revenues.

The Mobile Industry in Africa contributes US$56 billion to the regional economy, equivalent to 3.5% of total GDP. In particular, the mobile ecosystem is estimated to employ over 5 million Africans and is contributing to bringing mobile services to customers right across the continent. However there remains huge untapped potential - 36% of Africans, within the 25 largest African mobile markets (A25), still have no access to mobile services. Projections indicate that raising the whole region to 100% mobile penetration, could add an additional US$35 billion in aggregate GDP to the region, equivalent to a further 2% increase.

The mobile industry in Africa is an enabler of economic development far beyond its immediate domain. Mobile operators have driven the emergence of a unique industry in innovative mobile services in Africa. Mobile Value-Added Services have been launched throughout the continent to enable and support agriculture, banking, education, healthcare and gender equality. In particular, the emergence of mobile money transfers and mobile banking puts Africa firmly at the forefront of the global Mobile Money industry. Beyond mobile services, the mobile industry is also contributing to rural electrical distribution with lower carbon emissions and facilitating the work of NGOs across the continent. Many African governments have prioritized ICT policy as a key driver for development.

For the mobile industry to continue to serve as a catalyst for growth, sufficient spectrum is needed for the provision of mobile broadband services. African countries have currently allocated considerably less spectrum to mobile services than developing countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Allocating the Digital Dividend spectrum to mobile services will enable the mobile industry to accelerate its efforts to bring connectivity and information to large swathes of rural Africa."

DSpace in Africa: Growing Open Access to Knowledge and Culture

Title: DSpace in Africa: Growing Open Access to Knowledge and Culture
Author: Carol Minton Morris
Source: Open Access Week
Date (published): 21/10/2011
Date (accessed): 25/10/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"PART ONE: Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana This is the first of a five-part series that looks at Open Access repository development in twelve African countries in celebration of Open Access Week Oct. 24-30, 2011…

In Africa and in many countries around the world the need to manage, preserve and create open access to formerly “locked down” knowledge and culture has become apparent. Developing countries have recognized the need to utilize knowledge resources in order to leverage economic development, research and educational opportunities. One example is Kenya Open Data (http://opendata.go.ke/) which creates greater government transparency by providing open access to original data.
“This site makes public government data accessible to the people of Kenya. High quality national census data, government expenditure, parliamentary proceedings and public service locations are just a taste of what's to come. There's something for everyone: maps to start exploring, interactive charts and tables for a deeper understanding, and raw data for technical users to build their own apps and analyses. Our information is a national asset, and it's time it was shared: this data is key to improving transparency; unlocking social and economic value; and building Government 2.0 in Kenya.”

DSpace has been a player in creating open access to information since it was launched in 2002. This open source, easy-to-use repository application has been instrumental in providing universities and institutions all over the world with a tool for getting resources online and making them accessible. In 2004 there were 9 DSpace instances in Africa. Due the work of DSpace Ambassadors and other community outreach efforts that number has increased to 46 today. For the next five days DuraSpace will offer a glimpse into what’s “in” some DSpace repositories in Africa on each day in celebration of Open Access Week 2011 (http://www.openaccessweek.org/)."

From Highs to Lows - Africa has world's greatest broadband price decreases in 2010

Title: From Highs to Lows - Africa has world's greatest broadband price decreases in 2010
Author: Wayan Vota
Source: ICTWorks by Inveneo
Date (published): 17/10/2011
Date (accessed): 18/10/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"A few years ago, Internet access in Africa was crazy expensive. Entire projects would sink under the weight of a monthly broadband bill, often exceeding staff salaries to be the single largest expense in an ICT intervention.

Fast forward to 2010 and the ITU says that broadband Internet access prices are dropping by more than 50% globally with a special bonus for African countries…realize that the ITU may need to update the way it records Internet access when mobile data subscriptions account for 99 percent of all Internet access in Kenya and mobile phones are killing the cybercafé business model.

It may be that Internet penetration is actually higher than 10% now that all that African fiber is being used by mobile subscribers vs. fixed line users. After all, Facebook usage in Africa doubled in a month in 2011, with half of its users globally accessing their favorite social network via a mobile device, not a traditional computer."

The digital revolution in sub-Saharan Africa

Title: The digital revolution in sub-Saharan Africa
Author: Laila Ali
Source: Al Jazeera English
Date (published): 12/10/2011
Date (accessed): 17/10/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Much has been written about the role technology played in bringing social and political change across much of the Middle East and North Africa, but less is known about the technological revolution that is taking place and transforming people's lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is estimated that by 2015 sub-Saharan Africa will have more people with mobile phone network access than electricity access at home. People with internet and no home electricity will reach 138 million, according to the Cisco Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2010-2015.

This deep and rapid mobile penetration is catapulting developing countries into the 21st century and bringing new and previously unimagined opportunities. While schools in the developed world enforce strict policies to keep mobile phones out of the classroom, African schools and universities are now exploring the use of mobile technology to assist teaching.
...
Mobile education
Under the BridgeIt initiative, known locally as Elimu kwa Teknologia or Education through Technology, teachers download video content using Nokia N95 mobile phones, which are connected to TVs in their classrooms, allowing rural schools and communities access to a digital catalogue of locally-developed or adapted educational content.

E-learning
In South Africa the concept of using mobile technology to support distant learners is also gaining ground. Pretoria University considers it an extension of e-learning - where distance learners use the internet to access materials to support their studies.

An app for that
The use of mobile technology in Africa is not limited to the field of education. In Kenya, high mobile penetration spurred the development of ground-breaking applications that are positioning the country as a regional leader in technology."

Burundi to get first national backbone network

Title: Burundi to get first national backbone network
Source: IT News Africa
Date (published): 21/09/2011
Date (accessed): 21/09/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"ZTE Corporation, a publicly listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions has signed an agreement on 20 September 2011 with Burundi Backbone Systems Company (Burundi BBS) to build Burundi’s first national backbone network.

According to Total Telecom, the deal comes as a result of rapid growth in mobile and data service needs in Burundi. The ZTE network will cover 17 provinces and cities in Burundi, dramatically reducing broadband costs and laying the foundation for further improvements. It will also link Burundi with eastern and central African countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda, and Congo, connecting it to The Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy). Burundi BBS is a joint venture between five local telecommunication operators and is partially funded by the World Bank."

Africa represents real mobile innovation

Title: Africa represents real mobile innovation
Author: Bontle Moeng
Source: IT News Africa
Date (published): 20/09/2011
Date (accessed): 21/09/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The TM Forum Management World Africa, a global communications industry initiative that assists members to understand the complexity of running a service provider business commenced today at the Hilton Hotel, in Johannesburg, South Africa

Speaking at the two day conference, Nik Willetts, TM Forum Senior VP for Communications highlighted the challenges of service provider transformation in Africa.
Willetts says business and IT transformation are a crucial prerequisite for agility, growth and profitability.
During a Q&A session with ITNewsAfrica, Willetts provided vital information regarding Africa’s current mobile state and possible future opportunities.

Why is the African mobile market regarded as ‘the most exciting market in the world’?
Africa has the opportunity to capture markets that the more developed markets have already established. The opportunity to take a good share of the banking space, for example where many of the consumers that are being added now don’t have a bank account or experience in banking services – can have access to those services.
In Africa where some of those services are scares for many consumers means you can take them on a journey from a pre-financial world and a pre-banking world to one where they can embrace it."

Zap It to Me: The Short-Term Impacts of a Mobile Cash Transfer Program

Title: Zap It to Me: The Short-Term Impacts of a Mobile Cash Transfer Program
Author Editor: Jenny Aker, Rachid Boumnijel, Amanda McClelland, and Niall Tierney
Pages: 40 pp.
Source: Center for Global Development
Date (published): 20/09/2011
Date (accessed): 21/09/2011
Type of information: research report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"Conditional and unconditional cash transfers have been effective in improving development outcomes in a variety of contexts, yet the costs of these programs to program recipients and implementing agencies are rarely discussed. The introduction of mobile money transfer systems in many developing countries offers new opportunities for a more cost-effective means of implementing cash transfer programs. This paper reports on the first randomized evaluation of a cash transfer program delivered via the mobile phone. In response to a devastating drought in Niger, households in targeted villages received monthly cash transfers as part of a social protection program. One-third of targeted villages received a monthly cash transfer via a mobile money transfer system (called zap), whereas one-third received manual cash transfers and the remaining one-third received manual cash transfers plus a mobile phone. We show that the zap delivery mechanism strongly reduced the variable distribution costs for the implementing agency, as well as program recipients’ costs of obtaining the cash transfer. The zap approach also resulted in additional benefits: households in zap villages used their cash transfer to purchase a more diverse set of goods, had higher diet diversity, depleted fewer assets and grew more types of crops, especially marginal cash crops grown by women. We posit that the potential mechanisms underlying these results are the lower costs and greater privacy of the receiving the cash transfer via the zap mechanism, as well as changes in intra-household decision-making. This suggests that m-transfers could be a cost-effective means of providing cash transfers for remote rural populations, especially those with limited road and financial infrastructure. However, research on the broader welfare effects in the short- and long-term is still needed."

Making the Most of Mobiles in Africa

Title: Making the Most of Mobiles in Africa
Source: Africa the Good News
Date (published): 13/09/2010
Date (accessed): 21/09/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"It is not often a technology guru will say, “Forget the internet!” but Ken Banks, founder of Kiwanja.net, advocates going back to basics – using mobile phones rather than the internet, and pretty basic phones at that.

While mobile phones are ubiquitous in Africa, the internet has nothing like the same penetration and is almost non-existent in rural areas. Says Banks: “For example, in Zimbabwe, there’s 2-3 percent internet penetration. If your amazing, whizzy mobile tool needs the internet, and you are looking to deploy it in Zimbabwe, you have lost 97 percent of people before you start.”

Dillon Dhanecha's company, The Change Studio, was trying to distribute management tools and training through the internet, and admits it fell into exactly the trap Banks was describing. “We were developing short YouTube clips and so on, but I was in Rwanda a few weeks ago and trying to access our site from my Smartphone, and it just wasn’t happening.”

But there are plenty of options with even a not-very-smart phone: one of the pioneers was M-Pesa, designed as a tool for repaying microfinance loans. But Kenyans found all kinds of other uses; for instance, people afraid to carry large sums of cash while travelling would send it to themselves for collection at their destination. It was also key to the recent Kenyans for Kenya drought aid funding drive."

Branchless Banking Headlines & Highlights: Updates from Africa and Beyond

Title: Branchless Banking Headlines & Highlights: Updates from Africa and Beyond
Author: Sarah Rotman
Source: CGAP: Consultative Group to Assist the Poor
Date (published): 13/09/2011
Date (accessed): 21/09/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"The South African bank FNB has recently launched its latest mobile banking offering Pay2Cell which allows FNB account holders to make payments to other FNB clients using only the recipient’s mobile phone number. This is a different product offering from FNB’s eWallet which allows FNB account holders to send money to anybody with a mobile phone. The recipient does not need a bank account and can withdraw the cash at any FNB ATM

An active branchless banking provider in West Africa, Orange has recently launched the Orange African Social Venture Prize. This initiative aims to reward innovative projects using ICT for social and economic development in Africa. In this contest, 3 winners will be selected and will receive financial grants along with 6-months of mentoring support from management and ICT experts. The project should target at least one country where Orange has a footprint and the prizes will be announced during the AfricaCom Awards in Cape Town in November. The deadline for applications is the end of September. .."

In African agriculture, information is power

Title: In African agriculture, information is power
Author: Ken Banks
Source: News Watch
Publisher: National Geographic
Date (published): 05/09/2011
Date (accessed): 07/09/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"You don’t have to spend long in many African agricultural markets to realise the need for better information. Farmers lack prices, traders need transport and new contacts, projects and governments need a better way to reach out to people, businesses lack real-time updates on their stock and the value of their harvests. The list goes on.

In this installment of Mobile Message, Sarah Bartlett – Director of Communications and Research at Esoko - explains how African technology is being used to power agricultural markets across Africa, filling an ‘information void’ for local farmers in the process.

Mobile Message is a series of blog posts about how mobile phones are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives."

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