M360Africa: Could mobile technology be the answer to making Africa not a dark continent?


When thinking of the internet in this day and age it seems to have become a basic necessity that everyone should have access to. The sad truth though, is that many, especially in Africa, are yet to be connected.

A map released in 2015 by Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected devices, showed every device connected to the internet around the globe. The map was created when Shodan’s founder John Matherly sent a ping request to every IP address on the internet. The map showed Africa as essentially dark, with only specks of light in some countries and the Sahara Desert, completely blacked out due to the low levels of internet connectivity.

During his opening remarks at the Mobile 360 Series in Kigali, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT, Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa, addressed Africa’s unwanted “Dark Continent” title, expressing the sentiments that this problem could be solved easily with African’s continued use of mobile technology in solving day to day issues such as, banking, trading and sending money.

“At the moment there is a positive feeling of the transformational mobile technology in Africa more than anywhere in the world,” said Rurangirwa.

Even though the real economy and the digital economy are not mutually exclusive. The two have become one and the same thanks to emerging technologies. With a heavy reliance on mobile technology Africa can leap frog the rest of the world when it comes to the fourth industrial revolution. African governments thus have a responsibility to help unlock the huge potential that such technology holds.

“Rwanda has put in place conducive environment with good policies and infrastructure. The government offers and will continue to offer preferential treatment for any company investing in IT within the country,” Rurangirwa added.

Such policies have seen investment in the countries by companies such as MTN, with MTN CEO, Robert Shutter, pointing out that the company has 4 million subscribers in Rwanda and 3 million of the subscriber are active data users which emphasises Rurangirwa point on the kind of potential mobile technology holds.

And it is with such policies that African countries can help the continent become not dark and also help achieve the goal that more than half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa will be subscribed to a mobile service by 2025, according to the latest edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy report series.

The new report forecasts that there will be 634 million unique mobile subscribers1 across Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, equivalent to 52 per cent of the population, up from 444 million (44 per cent) at the end of last year. The report also calculates that the mobile ecosystem will add more than $150 billion in value to Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy by 2022, equivalent to almost 8 per cent of regional GDP.

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