The evolution of mobile networks across the African continent, and how countries here have leveraged technological advances to improve quality of life of the locals, can teach a lesson or two to developed nations that are already seasoned users of high-speed wireless connectivity and high-tech mobile devices. With mobile penetration in this land growing by leaps and bounds and telecom networks keeping pace with the increasing demand, the African population is eagerly adopting mobile technology, and the benefits are quite evident.
With 4G yet in its nascent stages in several countries across the world, Morocco has chosen to lead Africa into the next (fourth) generation of telecommunication networks, welcoming bids for 4G licenses. Leading players such as Inwi, Meditel and Maroc Telecom are in the race, already experimenting with pilot rollouts to vet their technology choices and readiness for real-time implementations. While costs associated with 4G infrastructure and services are definitely bound to be on the higher side, the rates of adoption are expected to make them more affordable over the next four to five years.
Personality Types and Life Advice - Resolving African Identity
In a first of its kind innovative experiment, TA Telecom, with guidance from Ahmed El Aawar, a certified psychologist and life coach, has embarked on a big data analysis project, Nafsi, which aims to categorise the personality of Africans living in different countries, and offer suitable life advice.
Mobile users can take a psychometric test on their devices to know their personality type. Based on the answers provided, the test maps individuals to pre-defined types such as Achiever, Challenger, Enthusiast, Helper, Individualist, Investigation, Loyalist and Peacemaker, and highlights character traits and displays life advice. TA Telecom hopes that this large volume of data will help businesses, telecom operators, as well as other service providers target the right niche with suitable offerings.
Africa, in reality, is a rich tapestry of several countries, religions and languages; but till date, has been largely considered a single market for business purposes. The social settings, local economy and infrastructural differences have resulted in distinct environments, home to diverse personality types. Each country and its citizens are potentially niche markets that need closer attention, and TA Telecom's Project Nafsi can offer valuable insights that can help unearth hidden business prospects.
Free Data Services
In a bid to connect the African population to the web, Facebook recently unveiled the Internet.org mobile app offering a bundle of free services. The Outernet, a global data broadcast startup, on the other hand, has revealed plans to provide free Internet access to select online content in different parts of the continent via satellite broadcasts and receivers. This effort will allow people across Africa to download data on their mobile devices without Internet connectivity. A mix of audio, video, books and news will be made available to mobile users. From non-profit free Wi-Fi service providers catering to small communities to grand initiatives from Microsoft and Nokia, the mobile environment in Africa is flourishing.
M-Learning, Banking and Commerce
Mobile learning, banking and commerce portals are quite popular among the local population. Several M-learning initiatives such as SMS Education Management Application (SEMA) in Kenya and Dr Math, MoMaths and M4Girls from Nokia in South Africa are already a success. According to Dr Ãlvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, web-based content, pre-loaded applications and SMS texts will continue to be quite effective in extending the reach and success of future M-learning projects.
Courtesy m-banking from M-PESA, the live Ushaidi platform, health care and agriculture help lines have all reportedly made it easier and simpler for people to access information, communicate, seek help and advice, and carry out essential transactions.