The Spectacular Mobile Phone Revolution in Africa
Friday, November 18, 2011
Mobile phone service is gaining by leaps and bounds in Africa. Indeed, so many Africans have subscribed to wireless service that the continent is now the second-largest market in the world – having supplanted Latin America — and behind only Asia, the top market.
The expansion of mobile phones is likely to revolutionize Africa, a land plagued by poverty, disease, wars and political corruption.
International Business Times spoke with one of Africa’s top mobile phone executives about the future of wireless service on the continent.
South African-based Pieter de Villiers is the chief executive of Africa’s largest mobile messaging provider, Clickatell.
IB TIMES: Mobile phone service is booming on the African continent with over 600 million subscribers. But how can this development translate into improving the economy when so much of Africa is beset with civil wars, political corruption, poor infrastructure and poor health care?
DE VILLIERS: Africa’s natural resources, growing stability and increasing middle class present a significant opportunity for both commercial and societal advancements. The key area of development is indeed commerce and finding sustainable ways for communities to interact and transact with each other in efficient, trusted ways.
Africa’s mobile operators and banks have been quick to realize that while 60 percent of Africa’s population has no access to banking facilities, over 50 percent of the adult population in Africa has access to a mobile phone, which makes the move to mobile-banking a natural transition.
Broad-based accessibility and availability of banking services at a reasonable cost could have a liberating impact on the majority of the African population, including those sections that do not have access to traditional banking channels.