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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid