News / Africa

    Report: Mobile Phones Transform Lives in Africa

    A man walk past a giant advertisement bill board of Nigeria Globacom in Lagos, May, 13. 2012.
    A man walk past a giant advertisement bill board of Nigeria Globacom in Lagos, May, 13. 2012.
    Jennifer Lazuta
    Rene Mendy, a street vendor in Dakar, has never had enough money to open a bank account. But now, thanks to an emerging mobile phone banking service, he has access to many financial services.
     
    Using a service called Orange Money, for example, he can deposit or withdraw as little as 500CFA (about $1), pay bills from anywhere, recharge phone credit and transfer money to family members.
     
    Launched on the continent in Ivory Coast in 2008, the service came to Senegal in 2010 as a pilot program with just 300 users. By July 2012, operating across ten African countries, Orange Money reported their four-millionth subscriber.
     
    According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa is now home to approximately 650 million mobile phone subscribers, a number that surpasses the United States and European Union, and represents an explosion of new communication technologies that are being tailored to the developing world.
     
    “Faster than TV, definitely faster than electricity, more people have access to mobile phones and hence communication," says Samia Melhem, the World Bank’s Regional Coordinator for Information and Communications Technologies for Africa.
     
    Mobile phones, she says, are the fastest growing technology on the continent.
     
    "More people have access to internet today in Africa than they do to clean water, or even sanitation," she says, explaining that more than two-thirds of African adults now have access to Information and Communications Technologies, or ICTs. "So we can say this has been the most significant revolution in terms of changing the African landscape and how people live their daily life."
     
    Largely attributed to a rapid infrastructure expansion — including the addition of more than 68,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cables and 600,000 kilometers of national network lines — Melhem notes that mobile banking in particular is one of its most popular innovations.
     
    “People in the West don’t understand it, because most people have bank accounts and they have credit cards," she says. "[Mobile banking] is the instantaneous acquisition of cash at a much lower cost. It’s the cost of sending an SMS, which is almost nothing compared to what traditional transfer agents, like Western Union, would charge - $10  or more for a particular money transfer.”
     
    In addition to financial services, Melhem says mobile phones have improved access to health information and services, made agricultural market data available to rural farmers, increased government transparency, saved people time and money on transport, and increased their overall happiness by reducing isolation.
     
    According the latest World Bank report, mobile phones were directly associated with the creation more than 5 million jobs in Africa last year and contributed 7 percent to Africa’s Gross Domestic Product — higher than the global average.
     
    Melhem says the benefits of ICTs in developing countries could be even greater if more people understood how to use and take advantage of mobile phone technology.
     
    “The issue, sometimes, is how do you educate a population that went from zero access to information to now access to information around the whole world?" says Melhem, explaining that ICT may further benefit the developing world as more people understand how to use it to their advantage. "Beyond just sending texts and voicemail, how do we use ICTs to revolutionize how agriculture is being done, to revolutionize how industry works? And how can people absorb this in a way that is culturally acceptable?”
     
    The World Bank says that as mobile broadband infrastructure continues to develop and as the cost of smartphones and other technologies continues to fall, ICTs will have an even greater economic and social impact on the lives of Africans.
     
    It is estimated that the ICT sector in Africa could be worth more than $150 billion by 2016.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    Party's presumptive presidential nominee, her vice presidential pick deliver optimistic message in Florida as they campaign for first time together

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Korir from: Korea
    January 29, 2013 4:19 PM
    ICT has indeed transformed money transfer services and relay of information .It used to cost approximately $10 dollars to send $100,but currently with mpesa and other money services in Kenya and the region,it is hardly $1.The use of ICT solutions to control/report on traffic is taking route.

    by: Ldanonis from: Home next to home of wise
    January 28, 2013 12:25 PM
    Also, people will still go retro look, as its cool to own origins, with new tech, :)
    best old phones, motorola bricks? with extra big battery, haha, dancall, nec, p3/ p4, flares, tac2, an one of my first new looking phones was technaphone, haha we rocked this world, haha 'bounces' and sold em to china, :P

    by: Ld Elon from: Home of wisdom
    January 28, 2013 12:15 PM
    we know as children what we did, by our free advertisements of sources, we changed the whole world rapidly, 'bowes' we did great work, how many lives have we saved children?
    How many saw us in the streets and questioned, how has this child got this, i need one too, that seems soooooooooooooo, useful, :)

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora