Africa’s Mobile Pricing Wars
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The increasing availability and ownership of mobile phones across much of Africa has brought numerous impressive benefits to ordinary Africans. And with the costs of calls, data-usage and handsets falling rapidly in many African countries, there has been a continuous rise in the number of mobile phone users across the region – in fact, the continent-widegrowth rate of 20% makes Africa the fastest growing market for mobile phones in the world.
The use of mobile phones allows people to circumvent limited infrastructure and poor access to affordable landlines in rural areas, and helps businesspeople in these areas contact and coordinate with suppliers and customers. Cheap handsets and low running costs are also highly significant in the agricultural sector, with applications such as Kenya’s M-Farm enabling small plot-holders to operate as a co-operative thus reducing the cost of essentials such as fertiliser. Kilimo Salama, another application, allows farmers to take out agricultural insurance by phone. Indeed, mobile money-transfer has revolutionised the lives of those in remote areas who wish to save money or receive funds from relatives working in cities. Moreover, the increased availability of mobile phones has afforded traders greater access to information about buyers and prices. Many benefits are being accrued in the health sector too, where emergency services can be more easily contacted and doctors have a greater ability to communicate with patients remotely and advise on medication.