Africa’s Mobile Technology is gaining momentum

Image: Wikimedia

By – Thandisizwe Mgudlwa – AfricanBrains

Moblie Money Africa and Mobile Health Africa are to join forces at this year’s Connected Africa Forum to be held from May 14 – 16 in Johannesburg.

The CAF which incorporates mobile money, mobile health and mobile agriculture will showcase the evolution of mobile lifeline services and applications on the continent and highlight the evolving intersection between the different sectors.

Sonum Puri director at CAF says: “Mobile money was the pioneering technology in this industry which then expanded into mobile health, and today we find that mobile lifeline services have expanded to other sectors to such an extent that we have decided to bring all the stakeholders together under one roof.  That means banks, mobile network operators, third party operators, NGOs, social media and online retailers as well as payment solution providers.”

Safaricom’s M-PESA is already hugely successful with mobile money transfer in Kenyaand its Chief Officer of the New Products Division, Betty Mwangi-Thuo, says:  “Mobile health is the next big area.  We have several projects that Safaricom is involved in that are very exciting; from an M-Health perspective we have the Changamka health card that uses technology to improve access to affordable quality healthcare through a medisave initiative.”

Puri adds that South Africa is not only a competitive mobile money market, but is a good representation of the different business models that are transpiring from the different stakeholders in the industry.

Commenting on the continent embracing technology Puri explains: “Soulstice Consulting is a South African company that is finding a ready market in Africa with its integrator platforms for the mobile money industry, currently assisting MTN Swazi and Mascom in successfully launching Mobile Money in Swazilandand Botswana respectively.

Mustapha Zaouini MD at Soulstice says:  “The continent as a whole has proven that it is ready to embrace mobile technology, given the astronomical uptake of mobile technology and utility in numerous industries, ranging from agriculture, to education and health.  Specifically,Nigeria, DRC and Ethiopia due to the size of those markets. Sudan and Malawi, though smaller, also offer great opportunities.”

On the benefits of electronic money transforming lives Zaouini says mobile money is the way of the future and the business case for it is overwhelming.

“It has a fast ROI.  Where the services have been launched, markets have primarily responded positively, characterized by clear month-on-month growth in subscriber bases, indicating that this is a noteworthy area of investment for all players.”

Betty Mwangi-Thuo of Safaricom notes:  “The rate at which technology changes in the mobile phone industry is amazing, however, what surprises me is the speed with which customers embrace these changes and adapt.”

Puri continues:  “The fact that mobile lifeline services often have such an empowering and visible impact on people’s lives makes this an extremely dynamic sector to be involved in.”

Naomi Lurie, Marketing Director of Mobile Financial Services at Gemalto, another global technology provider in this industry, shares the same view:  “Due to the life-changing nature of mobile money in Africa, there is a lot of good will and a passion behind what we are doing.  It is always inspiring to hear the exchange of ideas, successes, challenges, and to realize the benefits of electronic money will transform lives.”

Mwangi-Thuo is a headline speaker at the CAF conference while Gemalto and Soulstice will be some of the exhibitors.