Mobile commerce and banking spreads across Africa
FACT: Information technology has been the biggest driver of the global economy
for the last few years and has subsequently transformed lives across the globe,
especially in the developing world.
FACT: Mobile telephony is the single biggest technological transformation in
Africa, akin to the industrial revolution in Europe that heralded the expansion
of European economies and creation of wealth for its people.
Though still in its nascent years, telecommunications, especially mobile
telephony, is the single biggest technology that is rapidly changing lives
across Africa. Less than two decades old, mobile technology is influencing every
facet of African life today. Rural, remote villages without an electricity
connection are today connected to the outside world, thanks to the mobile
technology revolution that has swept across Africa.
Mobile telephony is the single biggest technological transformation in Africa.
people. However, it was laying the
foundation of a much-need service that
would resonate across Africa and
spread into other developing markets
such as India.
The M-Pesa service is billed by many in
the telecommunications industry as the
Regarded as the last investment frontier in the world, teeming with an abundance
of untapped talent while buried deep in the bowels of its surface lies an
abundance of natural resources, oil and precious metals, Africa is truly living
up to its billing.
Safaricom’s M-Pesa sets the trend
While the introduction of mobile telephony was considered to be Africa’s
adoption of modern telecommunications trends, Africa finally announced its
arrival about three years ago when it pioneered a value added service that rang
closer home to meet the demands of millions. The service has, in essence,
transformed the mobile telecommunications industry, not only in Africa, but in
much of the developing world as well.
When Kenya’s leading mobile
telephony firm Safaricom first
introduced M-Pesa (Mobile Money), its
flagship money transfer application, in
March 2007, Safaricom thought they
were merely introducing an innovative
business application that was meant to
meet the needs of small-scale business
perfect value added service that is
helping transform lives in Kenya and
across Africa. Many analysts are even
comparing the Kenyan innovation to
Silicon Valley, California, which has
transformed the global IT industry.
From its humble beginnings as a money transfer service that was meant to ease
small monetary transactions between small businessmen in Kenya, M-Pesa is today
one of the most efficient mobile commerce applications in Kenya, and has been
interlinked with many businesses and functions. The service has even transformed
in to a bank account for many Kenyans, who have for many years been sidelined by
commercial banks due to their low incomes and low deposits.
According to Safaricom, more than 525.84 billion Kenya Shillings (Kes) ($ 6.573
billion US) has been transferred to date since M-Pesa was first introduced in
March 2007. Safaricom notes that at least 20 billion Kes ($ 250 million US) is
being transferred every month, with monthly transactions increasing by at least
30 per cent.