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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

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, :)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid