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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Tag: african signals

A Mobile Money Transfer Directory for Africa

Benjamin Lyon started CreditSMS, a new outfit that is focused on providing an efficient an accessible platform for microfinance institutions to deliver and track loans via SMS. I’ve been tracking what they’ve been doing since they first popped on the radar two months ago. I’m intrigued by the question: can we decrease the cost for MFI’s with the use of simple SMS technology?

The crux of the inefficiencies can be found in the number, distance and expense of MFI personnel to track and receive payments. Ben states it this way:

“By allowing microloan officers to receive weekly loan repayments via SMS instead of spending time and money to travel to group meetings, MFIs will spend significantly less on fuel and have more time to pursue and manage a larger loan portfolio.”

This might very well be true, and I’m at least interested in seeing the experiment go forward.

A Mobile Money Transfer Directory

In the course of their research they needed to do more discovery on the possible ways to transfer funds with in Africa. This meant embarking on a study of the types of options available by every operator in every country. With that data, they decided to create the Mobile Money Transfer Directory.

Mobile Money Transfer directory

This first stage looks like its about creating a simple index of the operator, the money transfer service and a designation of the service. I can see this becoming more dynamic later, with data points like “transaction cost” and “number of merchants”, along with a slew of other pieces of information needed to understand the mobile money transfer systems (and how they differ) in each African country.

[Note: African Signals, the wiki for mobile/web pricing in Africa, turned out quite useful. Ben used that as a starting point in gathering much of his information.]

Tracking Mobile and Internet Services Across Africa

I’m continually frustrated trying to find the providers and costs of mobile phone and web services in African countries. This site was inspired by, and dedicated to, the many ranting and raving conversations amongst the technorati of Africa.

One of the issues is that the providers themselves do a shoddy job of getting the information out through convoluted (if any) marketing and price gimmicks. Another issue is that once you find out what services are available, you have no idea what to expect in terms of service levels and data speeds.

I decided to put together a site, African Signals, where people could leave information on the availability, costs and service levels of mobile phone and internet connections in their country. Right now there is a basic skeleton for every country, but it needs to be updated and improved.

Your Job:

Find your country and enter whatever you know about your local costs, speeds and service levels for mobile phone operators and internet service providers (ISPs).

Take 5 minutes and jump see if you can add anything new, or if the info is correct. Then, tell your tech friends from that country too, share this. It’s a resource, something for you to give to and to take from. It is strengthened by your information, and I hope that you in turn will benefit from it too one day.

Example pages

Liberia:

African Signals page for Liberia - mobile phone services

More good example pages, and a special thanks to:

[Note: Some might notice that I am repurposing a domain that I used to have a podcast on 2 years ago, but subsequently was abandoned.]

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