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Africa’s New Frontier: Innovation. Technology. Prosperity.

  • By Timothy Roberts
  • Friday, February 26, 2010

Earlier this month I was invited to participate in an event in Ottawa called Africa’s New Frontier.

Some 350 participants took part in this conference organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the International Development Research Centre. We had an enriched conversation about Africa, highlighted good news stories from Africa, and drew on lessons learned, projecting trends, and focused on the many ways in which Canada–Africa relations support innovation on the continent.

It was an excellent event. The organizers brought in very many walks of life, and the approach was from every different aspect on how Africa is using technology to innovate and solve real world problems that only exist in the region.

As a telecom software vendor working in Africa, we approach the market and opportunity no differently than we do at home. What we find specifically appealing is the challenges that we face in order to adopt our solution to the particular market conditions that exist. To date very little has had to be done by the way of real software changes, which really does mean that what we have built can adapt to many different markets, conditions.

I was particularly interested in a presented report IRDC had put together, called M-banking the Unbanked. It asserts that:

The results of… the survey reveal that there would be sufficient interest in m-banking services… m-banking models on a mobile platform, such as the mobile wallet may be leveraged to move beyond simple payments and transaction and may provide an alternative banking system that provides access to formal financial services to the unbanked, such as credit, which may be easier to extend to the unbanked, once they have built up a transaction history, through the use of m-banking and m-transfers.

This is great support for what we already know – with over 72 million subscribers on our network alone, it’s no surprise that m-banking is taking off in the developing world, led in large part to adoption in Africa.