Kenya, a country with a teeming start-up community, is also the cradle of mobile money transactions and a developed off-grid solar power.
TechInAfrica – To further show its technological prowess, the country decided to use mobile internet in the electoral tallying process. It’s a pity that a quarter of the 41000 polling stations did not have sufficient network coverage, resulting in incomplete tallying. Cue allegations of rigging and a historical decision by the courts in calling for a rerun. Despite all this seeming like Kenya was biting off more than it could chew, it should be noted that other African countries – its East African counterparts in particular – fall well below it in technological ability.
Across the continent, far less than half the populace owns a cellular device. If they happen to be in possession of one, chances are that they have to move long distances in a bid to find a signal. Access to mobile phones is vital to the growth of the economies of several African countries. Every 10 per cent hike in penetration into the countryside pushes forward the GDP growth per person by 0.8 to 1.2 per cent annually. One of the most significant applications of mobile phones the continent is transacting via mobile money, a move that has seen several households cross the threshold that is the poverty line. here is no doubt phones are a great driver of economic development. Add to that broadband internet connection and the wheels of this growth are greased. New start-ups sprouted quicker in countries with fast internet connections and said countries exported more product. Of the small number of African who own mobile phones, only 1 in 4 are connected to the internet through their handheld devices. Fewer still tap into the fast broadband delivered by cable, the overwhelming majority of whom reside in the big cities like Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi. The group in the city might count themselves lucky in having access to fast internet, but their wallets are yawning from the expense that is incurred in trying to stay connected. The price for connection in Johannesburg comes in at an average $9 for 1 megabit per second capacity– a figure 20 times what Londoners paid and 10 times that dished out in Los Angeles. Increased reach of both phone and internet connections to the remotest of villages would require a huge increase in the capacity of the Africa bound undersea cables.
The total bandwidth has increased more than twofold since 2015 and is bound increase again as several cables are snaked towards the continent. The competitive atmosphere has already seen the price of connection drop. Though it is now cheaper to connect from the West to Africa, dispersing the connection to individuals is still proving a challenge. This is because this last step relies heavily on mobile phone networks which are crowded, making the connection via radio waves expensive.
To bypass this bottleneck, a new crop of start-ups is emerging, offering Wi-Fi internet access. Wi-Fi signals outpace their mobile phone counterparts in terms of per second data carried. The Wi-Fi spectrum is tax free unlike the radio waves of the mobile networks. Add to this the fact that the equipment to beam out the signal is cheap and all this comes together to offer cheap mobile phone calls and internet access. This will galvanize the populace into innovation in a myriad of areas that are extremely beneficial to the economy and livelihoods of the citizens.