Getting the most out of mobile

Getting the most out of mobile

Mobile technologies and mobile connectivity are catching up with more traditional internet connections and applications very fast. In many countries mobile networks are much stronger than the fixed-line enabled internet networks. 

Around three-quarters of the world’s inhabitants now have access to a mobile phone and the mobile communications story is moving to a new level, which is not so much about the phone but how it is used, says a new report released by the World Bank and infoDev, its technology entrepreneurship and innovation program. The number of mobile subscriptions in use worldwide, both pre-paid and post-paid, has grown from fewer than 1 billion in 2000 to over 6 billion now, of which nearly 5 billion are in developing countries. Ownership of multiple subscriptions is becoming increasingly common, suggesting that the number will soon exceed that of the human population.

According to Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile, more than 30 billion mobile applications, or “apps,” were downloaded in 2011 – software that extends the capabilities of phones, for instance to become mobile wallets, navigational aids or price comparison tools. In developing countries, citizens are increasingly using mobile phones to create new livelihoods and enhance their lifestyles, while governments are using them to improve service delivery and citizen feedback mechanisms.

“Mobile communications offer major opportunities to advance human and economic development – from providing basic access to health information to making cash payments, spurring job creation, and stimulating citizen involvement in democratic processes,” said World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte. “The challenge now is to enable people, businesses, and governments in developing countries to develop their own locally-relevant mobile applications so they can take full advantage of these opportunities.”

This challenge is very evident in Turkey as we are far from using the mobile sphere for the benefit of all. Africa is way ahead of us. 

iCow is an SMS (text message) and voice-based mobile phone application for small-scale dairy farmers in Kenya. It’s something of a virtual veterinary midwife, helping farmers track the estrus stages of their cows, while giving them valuable tips on cow breeding, animal nutrition, milk production efficiency and gestation. Each text message costs about 10 Kenyan shillings, or 10 U.S. cents. “The wonderful thing with iCow is that by the time you have used the app and adhered to all the instructions, your cows end up healthier, bigger and stronger. They can easily fetch you more money in the marketplace. Every smart farmer will use iCow,” said Kariuki Githinji, a small-scale farmer based in Nyeri , a midsized town in the central highlands of Kenya.

Although not strictly an app, Zimbile helps small businesses enter the online world in a flash. The website allows businesses and individuals across Africa to build fast-loading, mobile-optimized websites in app form in a few easy steps. The company prides itself on helping you (even if you have no technical knowledge) build a mobile website in mere minutes.

Mocality is Kenya’s largest business directory. The app allows users to find relevant local businesses in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret and Nyeri, with more cities being added every month. It provides users with locations, and they can also access contact details along with offered products and services.

Business is a vital part of keeping Africa afloat, so any app or website driving commerce is a welcome sight. SlimTrader enables users to carry out e-commerce transactions, like buying or paying for goods and services via SMS or WAP.

There are many more African mobile apps to help local businesses. Turkey is lagging way behind Africa in terms of mobile services such as mentioned above. Maybe it is the time for mobile app companies to start thinking about the farmers and local businesses instead of banks and richest holdings.