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The Innovative Use of Mobile Applications in East Africa

The report from Sida, published in June, describes trends and challenges as well as opportunities for scaling up mobile applications. The report focuses on East Africa and evidence is drawn from statistics and secondary data from 2008 and 2009. The report identifies and describes a range of mobile applications from the simple to the advanced across a range of sectors from agriculture to health and finance. The region is blighted by poor infrastructure and a predominately rural population, yet the report tells us that by the end of 2009 there were almost 50 million mobile subscribers in the region resulting in a mobile penetration of 40% of the total population, making mobile phones the most accessible platforms for information sharing and interactive communication in the region.

The report from Sida, published in June, describes trends and challenges as well as opportunities for scaling up mobile applications. The report focuses on East Africa and evidence is drawn from statistics and secondary data from 2008 and 2009. The report identifies and describes a range of mobile applications from the simple to the advanced across a range of sectors from agriculture to health and finance. The region is blighted by poor infrastructure and a predominately rural population, yet the report tells us that by the end of 2009 there were almost 50 million mobile subscribers in the region resulting in a mobile penetration of 40% of the total population, making mobile phones the most accessible platforms for information sharing and interactive communication in the region.

Despite the wide availability to mobile phones there are still some barriers to access that cause concern, the most formidable being the total cost of ownership and use which the report cite as being ‘cost of device, airtime, charging, etc., is too high. Lack of electricity is also a major hindrance as well as illiteracy.’ The report outlines the barriers to the development of mobile applications for social and economic development in East Africa:

  • The cost of communication – overpriced and voice and data traffic.
  • Poor marketing about available applications.
  • Many interventions are not designed with scale in mind.

The report makes special note of the success of mobile money services in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and most recently in Rwanda, m-banking is set to grow.

For more details down the report from here:
upgraid.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/sr2010-12_sida_hellstrom.pdf

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