I find that there are more mobile phone projects going on in Africa than I can write about. Instead, here are some quick links for you to follow on the ones that I find the most interesting:
Mobile banking and payments
(Probably the most lucrative space in mobiles in Africa right now, it’s amazing it’s taken this long to really get started)
Canadian firm Redknee selected to supply Uganda Telecom with mobile money services.
Mxit (South African chat client) starts bridging the gap with mobile money. It uses Standard Bank’s MiMoney as an electronic payment voucher that can be purchased through self-banking channels and various retailers.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the GSM Association, have announced a programme that will expand the availability of mobile banking services in the developing world. The Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) programme, supported by a US$12.5 million grant from the foundation
Mobile health services
(This is all the rage now in the foundation and non-profit space)
50 case studies of mHealth projects, the majority of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, by the UN Foundation. (Download the 4.3Mb PDF)
Nokia and Adobe have announced a $10 million fund to develop Flash based applications for mobile phones. The new fund is a result of the Open Screen Project, an industry-wide initiative of more than 20 industry leaders set to enable a consistent experience for web browsing and standalone applications.
February 17, 2009 at 4:15 pm
I agree that the mobile banking space is potentially huge but it appears to be continually stalled – The main problem seems to be that the big players are not yet pushing it because they are locked in a big stand off – Who is going to have the power, will it be the governments, the banks or the operators? – there are multi-billions at stake and all are greedy for a bigger share of the pie.
A great example of an independent effort is Wizzit who are run through the Bank of Athens – you can see by their website that a lot of their prominent press releases where back in 2005 – Now it looks like a great solution but over 3 years since launch and they still have minimal client base compared to the big banks – I can only assume they either didn’t get the funding they needed for major expansion or they were really just wanting to get brought out.
February 18, 2009 at 12:00 am
I agree with Rob, and it reminds me of the recent TR story from which I quote:
“The larger story is one of pilot projects that petered out amid difficulties including cumbersome national regulations, unfriendly user interfaces, and an inability to make the right partnerships. “The reality of the field today is that the promise–which a lot of people understand is huge–is more in the conceptual stage,” says Michael Chu. “The banking industry is very suspicious of the cell-phone industry, because they suspect that cell phones will make them obsolete. The cell-phone companies think the banks are like dinosaurs.” But these players have to work together seamlessly for cell-phone-based banking to work.”
February 18, 2009 at 1:18 am
What I find especially fascinating in this mix of players and debates and arguments are how few are really looking at what their users need and how to enable them to use these services for the better. The Mxit approach sounds like something worth watching. Imho, Wizzit had a great concept and technology but perhaps wasn’t as well implemented as it could have been in order to reach those for whom it was meant.
Here’s an interesting study on the money, culture and information technology that I found insightful on this topic called “designing for money across borders”
February 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm
Here’s a mobile application for, of all things, the world’s largest library catalogue called WorldCat from OCLC in Ohio. This app lets you find something in a library near you and even map a route to it.
February 18, 2009 at 6:29 pm
Mobiles for Development: Guide on how mobile technology can enhance Plan and partners’ work in Africa: http://tinyurl.com/c9x8js
Plan Finland commissioned this research into the potential value of mobile technologies to the type of child-centred community development work to which they are committed. While the nature, scope and scale of any work involving mobile technologies will depend entirely on the context, stakeholders and development objectives, this guide
– an overview of relevant and innovative examples of how mobile
telephones have been successfully integrated into development projects and processes; and
– a three stage process to help Plan staff and other development
practitioners identify the key social, economic and technical factors and issues they need to consider when planning to use mobile technologies.