Mobility & Dev't 12 ways mobile phones changed Africa for better

It is estimated that more than half of the sub-Saharan Africa’s adult population is now connected to a mobile phone.

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Apart from easing communication, technology has indeed revolutionized the entire African continent. The wide use of mobile phones has boosted the economic output of individuals across the continent and generally improved the standard of living and awareness amongst the populace.

It is estimated that more than half of the sub-Saharan Africa’s adult population is now connected to a mobile phone.

A man holds up his mobile phone showing a M-Pesa mobile money transaction page for the photographer at an open air market in Kibera in Kenya's capital Nairobi December 31, 2014. REUTERS/Noor Khamis play A man holds up his mobile phone showing a M-Pesa mobile money transaction page for the photographer at an open air market in Kibera in Kenya's capital Nairobi December 31, 2014. REUTERS/Noor Khamis

 

Mobile phones have changed the way companies, government agencies and other institutions deal with customers and services.

Here are 12 ways in which mobile phones have changed Africa:

Money transfer: In 2007, Safaricom, the largest telecom company in Kenya, and Vodacom in Tanzania launched a mobile-phone based money transfer service called M-Pesa.

In Kenya right now, the service already has more than 20 million users, with transactions going up to about 30% of the country’s GDP. Mobile money transfers have now made transfer of funds less confined within borders.

The service is building up in Ghana, but there are currently no reliable data to process on the number of transactions made. However, the Ghanaian mobile money market has a large number of players with every major network apart from Glo operating their own version.

Banking: Mobile phones have given millions of Africans the ability to move on from the traditional brick-and-mortar banking system to online banking. Now users can deposit, transfer and even pay for services from their mobile phones.

Communication: Africa has moved on from hand-written letters and landlines to mobile phones which over greater reach and practicality. Mobile phones have made the continent much more connected.

A Zimbabwean man speaks on his phone outside a branch of mobile service provider Econet Wireless in central Harare, June 6, 2014. EUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo play A Zimbabwean man speaks on his phone outside a branch of mobile service provider Econet Wireless in central Harare, June 6, 2014. EUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

 

Health Care: Tech startups and other tech companies have made it easier for patients and doctors to connect via various mobile phone solutions. GE Africa and mHealth are always launching new services leveraging on the use of mobile phones. A service, mPedigree is available to for genuine/fake drugs to be verified on the database via mobile phones.

Agriculture: There are already mobile apps that can be used to share weather information, market prices and other important information used in the entire agricultural process.

Activism: Because the continent is now better connected and aware, citizen, via mobile phones, have been able to pressure governments and speak up for themselves. Social media has made it harder for corrupt government officials to get away with their deeds.

The OccupyGhana campaign in Ghana started off a social media trend and blew up from there.

Education: Many higher learning institutions have e-learning platforms that have been optimized for mobile phones, making learning much easier and accessible.

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Mobile telephony

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Entertainment: Mobile phones have changed the way the music industry runs in Africa with the advent of various online music platforms. Musicians across Africa are now selling their music via ringtones and the likes.

Disaster management: Relief materials and warning can be communicated much more effectively in Africa now thanks to mobile phones.

Data Collection: Various companies and organisations have found it much easier to collect data, conducts surveys, and polls, thanks to mobile phones. Now organisations have access to valuable data which was not easy to do before mobile phones.

Market reach: Many apps optimized for mobile phones have been developed to aid businesses in reaching their target customers.

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