Mobile money and the way it has enabled African societies to evolve into a wider economic inclusion is one of the main topics that will come under discussion at this year’s upcoming AfricaCom conference in Cape Town.
Mobile Money – or making payments via your cell phone – is becoming the great differentiator in African societies, to such an extent that it has evolved into a tool for wider economic inclusion and social enablement.
In his annual ‘Gates News’ newsletter Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, wrote about the impact that smartphones and mobile banking would have in the next 15 years. He said “digital banking will give the poor more control over their assets and help them transform their lives and by 2030, two billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones”.
Sub Saharan Africa currently hosts 52% of all live mobile money deployments worldwide. This statistic clearly shows a significant need for quality mobile financial services within the African – and global – society. It’s this need that has created the huge business opportunity for Mobile Money. A handful for African operators have led the way in addressing these societal needs by developing interoperable services. At the same time they’ve leveraged a broader reach to customers and built a robust business from their mobile money verticals.
Innovations in Tanzania have led the way for interoperability. Operators such as Tigo, Airtel, Zantel, and now Vodacom’s M-Pesa service have initiated a new wave of collaboration between their respective mobile money services.
At AfricaCom 2015, the continent’s largest Telecoms, ICT and tech event, delegates will have the opportunity to engage with expert speakers discussing the key issues embodying the direction and evolution of this pioneering industry.
Adam Thompson, Africa and Middle East, Com World Series Head of Content, said: “High level representatives from all the leading companies in the mobile money business will be speaking at AfricaCom in the Mobile Money stream. Along with all other tier one operators they will be focusing on many themes, including interoperability during the continent’s most focused and relevant meeting for professionals in mobile financial services.”
Discussion topics will included:
Achieving interoperability through mobile financial services
Developing relevant and profitable Mobile Financial Services
Learnings on launching payments via an OTT
Chief regulatory panel – nurturing innovation whilst maintaining regulation
Further dialogue around the interoperability between mobile operators and banking services; mobile money and convergence with traditional merchant payment systems; and the evolution of nano-finance through mobile will also form part of this leading-edge theme.
Thompson said: “If you are a network operator in the mobile money space, a financial institution operating mobile services, or regulator from telecoms or banking sectors, register for your complementary pass to Mobile Money and AfricaCom today. You’ll learn how to reach a broader range of people across multiple regions, while maintaining high service quality. The discussions will share insight on how to launch and scale interoperable mobile money services; identify and share best practices, guidelines and processes while engaging regulatory support.”
AfricaCom, now in its 18th year, brings together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem, from all over Africa. Last year the conference was attended by 9000 digital movers and shakers, with more than 375 of the worlds most innovative brands showcasing their products and services at the event. 2015 is expected to exceed this number and is anticipated to be the best place on the continent to learn how to engage your customers in an every changing digital market, and make the best of this global marketing trend – the future of marketing.
Speakers at this event will include; Asif Aziz of Expresso Telecom Group, Fredrik Jejdling of Ericsson, Li Peng of Huawei, Willem Hendrickx of Alcatel-Lucent, Dr. Harry Gombachika of Malawi Telecommunications Limited, Mariam Altman of Telkom, Mark Shoebridge of Uganda Telecom, Biola Edun of Etisalat Nigeria, Nic Rudnick of Liquid Telecom, Dominique Baron of Horus Telecom, Sherry Zameer of Gemalto.
Africa gets broadband boost
ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.
Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.
Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.
ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.
At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”
Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.
Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.
AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.
The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.
‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”
The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.
‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.
The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”