Samsung Electronics Africa has announced that it will bolster its corporate citizenship efforts in Africa in a bid to help the continent achieve its sustainable development goals.
“As a global citizen, we felt it was important to use our technology to give back to society,” said Abey Tau, Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs Manager, speaking at the recent 2016 Samsung Africa Forum. “We do this in four ways: by creating new learning opportunities so that young people can enjoy access to better education; by using our technical expertise to develop and provide access to new healthcare solutions; by supporting youth employment through vocational training and skills development; and by reducing our impact on the environment.”
According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than 50% of all out-of-school children worldwide, which affects their future employment opportunities. The dire situation faced by many African countries is a result of a number of factors, including civil unrest, cultural beliefs and a lack of schooling infrastructure and resources.
It is against this backdrop that Samsung Electronics Africa has adopted an attitude of innovation by introducing technology where it previously has not existed. The aim is to make sure that every African child has access to education no matter where they are on the continent, using state-of-the-art digital technology enjoyed by children in developed countries.
Education as seed of innovation
Samsung says it believes that digital technology can completely transform the learning process, as well as the nature of teaching and learning, to create inclusive environments for everyone. Its Solar Powered Internet Schools, Smart Schools and E-Learning Academies provide solutions that are intended to deliver on this vision and improve the quality of learning, enhance teaching effectiveness and allow administrators to run institutions more effectively.
The company works with educators around the world to improve learning experiences through the use of technology, facilitating a classroom environment that is limitless and gives students access to a world of knowledge from their desks or on the go.
Through these education initiatives, Samsung hopes to instill a love of learning in students so that they may have equal access to opportunities and go on to become active participants in the economy. This can help to reduce the number of out-of-school children, giving them a chance to succeed.
Earlier this month, Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, attended the launch of a Smart School in the state of Ogun.
Samsung will continue to drive access to education by launching a number of education initiatives in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and DRC in 2016.
Skills of the future
However, it takes more than simply providing access to education. As a result of the work Samsung continues to do across the continent, alongside governments, private sector partners and communities, it has come to light that many graduates leave institutions of higher learning with strong theoretical knowledge but lack the practical skills needed by industry.
Samsung’s Engineering Academy and Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Academy aim to change this by providing free, intensive, hands-on training to graduates. The Academies seek to develop skilled young African leaders who are adequately prepared for the world of employment. The programme forms a core part of Samsung’s vision to fast-track the entry of African youths into the electronics job market and to reduce the shortage of scarce skills in the IT industry. Zimbabwe will be a recipient of one of these academies this year.
“Investing in the skills of the youth also benefits Samsung – the more young people we can develop with skills in the electronics industry, the more we can be assured of our ability to provide excellent service to our customers,” says Tau.
Access to quality healthcare
According to the World Bank, more than 60% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa live in rural areas and are unable to access clinics for proactive medical care.
To help alleviate this, Samsung Electronics Africa has put initiatives in place through public-private partnerships.
In 2013, Samsung introduced the Solar Powered Health Centre, a solution housed in a shipping container fitted with the most advanced medical equipment and Samsung solar panels. Patients can be screened at the centre to diagnose conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, tooth decay and cataracts. They can also access information on health issues.
Samsung’s Mobile Health Centre, which uses technology to remotely connect to specialist doctors anywhere in the world to get expert opinion and diagnoses, communities quick access to primary healthcare, screening, mother and child facilities, dental care, eye testing and emergency care This year, Samsung will be establishing a Mobile Health Centre in Togo.
Samsung’s Digital Village, which focuses on the challenges in underserved and rural communities, provides access to new experiences by bringing advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to under-resourced areas. This helps to bridge the digital divide and serves as a catalyst for local business and government service delivery.
The Digital Village is a hub where community members can access educational and health solutions.
Within a Digital Village set-up, Samsung also offers a Mother and Child Unit, which is equipped to offer comprehensive pre- and post-natal screening, care and education in an effort to reduce Africa’s high infant mortality rate.
In 2016, Samsung will be launching Digital Villages in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
“These multi-purpose offerings provide a sustainable solution to challenges faced by African people, while improving their standards of living. The model addresses one of Africa’s largest economic challenges – electrification. The scarcity of electricity results in limited access to education, healthcare and connectivity – all of which are key to socio-economic development,” adds Tau.
Corporate Citizenship that makes a real impact
“Collaboration with communities is key to finding the correct remedies to societal challenges,” says Tau. “At Samsung, we have a vested interest in the communities we operate in and, as a result, we have come up with solutions that directly address the everyday challenges most people encounter. Over the years, our collaborative efforts – guided by our strategic focus in the areas of education, health, the environment, and skills and employability – have seen us collaborate with different communities, NGOs and governments. These collaborations have given us insights that we have used when designing the solutions we have installed in the different communities across the African continent. 2016 is another year we build on these progressive partnerships and ensure that we positively impact the lives of more people.”
Africa phones go flat
Africa’s mobile phone market declined 2.1% quarter on quarter in Q3 2018 according to the latest figures from IDC.
The global technology research and consulting firm newly released Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows overall shipments for the quarter totalled 52.6 million units, with feature phone shipments falling 2.7% QoQ and smartphone shipments declining 1.3% over the same period.
Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel) led the feature phone space in Q3 2018, with a combined unit share of 58.2%. Nokia was next in line with 11.7% share. Transsion, Samsung, and Huawei dominated the smartphone space with respective unit shares of 34.9%, 21.7%, and 10.2%. However, in value terms, Samsung led the smartphone market with 37.2% share, followed by Transsion (21.0%) and Huawei (13.0%).
There were differing fortunes in the region’s three major markets, with Nigeria suffering a heavy 11.6% QoQ decline in mobile phone shipments, while South Africa and Kenya saw respective QoQ growth of 8.5% and 7.9% in Q3 2018.
“The decline in Nigeria stemmed from a slowdown in government spending, ongoing warfare in the country’s northern states, and market uncertainty in the lead up to elections,” says George Mbuthia, a research analyst at IDC. “In South Africa, the market’s growth was spurred by the penetration of low-end devices from brands such as Mobicel, Mint, and Nokia, while the launch of entry-level smartphones helped drive growth in Kenya despite increases in taxes and fuel prices placing a significant burden on disposable income in the country.”
While feature phones remain steadfastly popular across Africa, particularly in more rural areas, consumers are increasingly being attracted by smartphone offerings from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei, which are actively targeting feature-oriented customers at more economical price points.
“There is a new wave of Chinese brands aggressively pursuing growth opportunities in the region, while the more-established Huawei is also accelerating its marketing efforts and expanding its distribution budget,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC. “These brands have quickly progressed along the learning curve and evolved their offerings to perfectly reflect the realities of the region by addressing the diverse pricing and feature needs of the consumer base.”
Looking ahead, IDC expects Africa’s overall mobile phone market to reach 58 million units in Q4 2018, spurred by the festive season and online consumer events such as Black Friday. The introduction of more affordable smartphones in the African market will help drive progress in this space over the coming quarters, while the share of feature phones will decline steadily as the transition to smartphones gathers momentum.
Mobile money to cross borders
Orange and MTN launch pan-African mobile money interoperability to scale up mobile financial services across Africa.
Two of Africa’s largest mobile operators and mobile money providers, Orange Group and MTN Group, today announced a joint venture, Mowali (mobile wallet interoperability), to enable interoperable payments across the continent. Mowali makes it possible to send money between mobile money accounts issued by any mobile money provider, in real time and at low cost.
Mowali will immediately benefit from the reach of MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money, bringing together over 100 million mobile money accounts and mobile money operations in 22 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 markets. Mowali is ready to enable interoperability between digital financial service providers beyond MTN and Orange operations and markets, to support the existing 338 million mobile money accounts in Africa.
Mowali is a digital payment infrastructure that connects financial service providers and customers in one inclusive network. It functions as an industry utility, open to any mobile money provider in Africa, including banks, money transfer operators and other financial service providers.
The objective of Mowali is to increase the usage of mobile money by consumers and merchants. Mowali enables money to circulate freely between mobile money accounts from any operators in all countries. From the customer’s point of view, this means “I can pay or receive money anywhere from my mobile account regardless of my operator”. The system will unlock further innovation in the digital financial space within the continent.
For Stéphane Richard, Chairman & CEO of Orange, “by providing full interoperability between platforms, Mowali will provide an important step forward that will allow mobile money to become a universal means of payment in Africa. Increasing financial inclusion through the use of digital technology is an essential element in furthering the economic development of Africa, particularly for more isolated communities. This solution embodies Orange’s ambition to be a leading player in the digital transformation of the continent. By joining forces with another of Africa’s market leaders, MTN, we aim to accelerate the pace of this transformation in a way that will change the lives of our customers by providing them with simpler, safer and more advantageous services. “
“One of MTN’s goals is to accelerate the penetration of mobile financial services in Africa, Mowali is one such vehicle that will help us achieve that objective. Furthermore, co-operation and partnerships that help us accelerate the pace of development and overcome some of the scale, scope and complexity of challenges that society faces are key. This partnership with Orange is therefore an important step in helping us play a meaningful role in supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals related to eliminating extreme poverty and enhancing socio-economic development in the markets we operate in and beyond. Thus giving our customers access to a bright, digital future.” said Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN.
The GSMA supports the Mowali initiative as interoperability at this scale is a key accelerator for both financial inclusion and Mobile Money usability across Africa. “Today, there are over 690 million mobile money accounts around the world. Mobile money services have become an essential, life-changing tool across Africa, providing access to safe and secure financial services but also to energy, health, education and employment opportunities. The creation of Mowali will help to further transform mobile financial services throughout the African region. It demonstrates the mobile industry’s continued leadership and commitment to driving financial inclusion and economic empowerment through industry collaboration. The GSMA is proud to support its development,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA.
“Interoperability of digital payments has been the toughest hurdle for the financial services industry to overcome, in support of financial inclusion. With Mowali, Orange and MTN deliver a solution that will enable them, and other companies, to scale digital financial services across Africa, faster, to everyone—including the poor,” said Kosta Peric, deputy director of Financial Services for the Poor, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “This is a signal that a new wave of innovation, which can help alleviate poverty and drive economic opportunity, is coming. We’re pleased to see an implementation of Mojaloop—an open source payment platform available to operators across the sector—help achieve that.”