It’s good to see larger news publications pointing out that the mobile phone is the platform for communication in Africa. This time it’s the Economist, where they cover TradeNet, one of the most exciting platforms to come out of Africa that I’ve seen.
Mobile-phone use in sub-Saharan Africa is soaring. Whereas only 10% of the population had network coverage in 1999, today more than 60% have it, a figure expected to exceed 85% in 2010, according to the GSM Association, an industry trade group. This provides the infrastructure for businesses like TradeNet to function.
Any long time reader here will know that I believe that the mobile platform is the only real platform for mass market communication efforts in Africa. Whether that’s with eCommerce, payment services, information, news or entertainment. More and more companies are coming out with new applications designed specifically for usage by Africans.
TradeNet is more than just a copycat of some other software, it’s a new take on how to communicate and foster trade in Africa. Not just that though, it has a business model. It’s not just an development agency, it’s a business that’s here to stay. That’s huge. It’s a big idea that is actually being executed on.
[Update: Ethan has a great write-up on this as well]