Mobile: The Wind of Change that is sweeping across Kenya and Africa

By Isaac Korir / April 11, 2018




There is technology, and then there is change, and one of the milestones at the center of it all is mobile. Mobile technology is bringing change, it is making a difference, not just in Kenya, but all over the world.

Mobile technology has been identified as the driver of economic growth. It has stimulated gigantic spending in the private-sector, and profoundly influenced the lives of many everywhere.

The role of mobile technology in shaping the world aligns itself with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals focused on making the world a better place, both economically and for a living.

It is more than just taking selfies and interacting with friends and family. People from developing countries like Kenya and Tanzania, for instance, have found great and positive revelations to using mobile phones. Now people are financially independent, others are getting employment, there is better access to health and education as well as government services, information, and, of course, the internet. Let’s have a closer look at the industries mobile technology has revolutionized and or interrupted for the better.

Banking

Banking is one of the industries mobile technology has influenced tremendously. Take for example financial inclusion. In Kenya, it is growing, and at a fast rate. According to the annual report released in 2017 by FSD Kenya, access to any form of financial service increased from 27 percent to more than 75 percent.

The report further notes that the growth is continuing and the number of Kenyans not using any form of financial service decreased from 25.1 percent in 2013 to 17.4 percent in 2016.

The inclusion has been attributed to mobile money services, like M-Shwari, KCB M-PESA, Equitel, among others, all which are used by more than 71 percent of adults. M-PESA, to be specific, is estimated to have lifted 194,000 households out of poverty with the impact felt in female-headed households.

The revolution is based on the convenience mobile phone offers. Customers nowadays find it convenient logging into a mobile app to manage their money, and with the ease of sending, withdrawing, paying utility bills among others, their lives are positively becoming better.

Healthcare

In the face of a growing population and limited resources, access to better healthcare services becomes a challenge. Kenya, for example, has been at the vanguard for the adoption of health, a platform that offers health solutions through mobile phones. Together with other services like M-TIBA, M-PESA among others, better care can be easily accessed using a phone. The billing process, service tracking, provision of health insurance cover, drug management, and the overall service delivery now comes handy.

Mobile technology has eased the burden on the shoulders of health professionals by taking over routine tasks. Organizations are developing health apps, which are becoming more sophisticated, employee training is continuously being improved, and policies are becoming more robust, all thanks to mobile technology.

Education

Nobody, even in their wildest ideas, would have thought that mobile technology would bring education closer to the people. From virtual classrooms to open education programs to convenience in paying for the fees, mobile is changing the way things happen.

Children in remote areas do not have to travel miles just to reach their parents, to pay fees, or even to collect money from home. All these can be achieved using mobile communication, the internet, and the mobile banking. The outcome is an improved education system as well as the standards of learning for all.

Private business

Mobile technology is also reshaping the private sector due to its ability to boost productivity. Companies now are in a better position of providing flexible and compelling solutions to persistent public-sector issues.

Among other industries that have been influenced by mobile technology is the newspaper industry. Nowadays people stay abreast of what is happening worldwide using a mobile phone. The job industry has also positively changed as people can now search for, subscribe or get notifications on job offers. Not left behind is farming. The mobile phone offers the support through financial access, market analysis, pricing, among others.

Millennials and Mobile Technology

Amidst all these changes are the millennials. The young generation has for a while being perceived as lazy and docile. On the contrary, they are at the forefront championing the diversification of mobile technology.

All the trends, the dynamics of the mobile technology are driven by the young individuals. Africa, for instance, was recognized as a continent with a large young population by the UN.

The number of African millennials using mobile technology has been on the rise with the majority of them accessing the internet and browsing for job offers, creating brands for their startups, marketing, and interacting with other youth for ideas.

This is supported by a report published by GSMA on Africa’s mobile economy in 2016, which showed that smartphone adoption in Africa has doubled in two years. The report noted that mobile data continues to be the preferred means of internet access with social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter being an integral part of everyday life. Over 60 percent of the youth are using social media as their primary source of information. Television comes a distant 2nd at 25 percent with newspapers being the least important source 6 percent.

Among Sub-Sahara African countries, South Africa has the highest number of smartphone subscribers at 34 percent followed by Nigeria, Senegal, and Kenya, the report said.

The bottom line is, the younger millennials continue to make their impact felt in almost every sector. Their usage and wide adoption of mobile technology are benefitting the economy as well as companies seeking relevant skills or a culture with rich image conscious, educated and opinionated individuals.

Involving Policy Makers

In as much as the technology seems unstoppable, many policymakers have curtailed its growth. Governments have a vital role to play in creating a policy environment that elevates mobile technology in the society. The betterment of services is not enough if some sectors of the economy or people in a specific place still face a variety of issues.

For an inclusive digital society where no one is left behind, the government should adopt changes that transform people’s lives by equally benefitting all of them.

Because they have the power to create the best possible results for the future of mobile technology, some of the key areas that need be addressed include the implementation of high-speed, dependable and vigorous digital infrastructure that benefits all persons.

The policymakers should lead by example and provide a framework that doesn’t suffocate the progress of developmental innovations that could drive change, particularly for the millennials and the less fortunate.

Going easy on the regulations in the mobile banking sector, for instance, offering appealing cap rates that enable farmers, startups, among other young entrepreneurs to access capital, goes a long way in ensuring that mobile technology stands a better chance of bringing change.

Governments respond better to what they know more about. Which is why mobile technology and how it is influencing people’s lives for the better needs be emphasized again and again.

Not all authorities have time to source for statistics and the relevant information on the internet. They listen to the people they know, the things they see and only to the best stories. As such, involving them in the campaigns and the positive changes realized by individuals across several communities is the conviction they need to propel the adoption of mobile technology.

All these efforts are geared towards ensuring the mobile phone is competent, is inclusive, benefits everyone in the society, and is able to provide a trusted environment for digital interactions and financial includes.





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