What can we learn from the current media development in Africa, #theconf @barrysea

Geraldine de Bastion and Barry Coetzee at The Conference day one session two.

In Africa (south Saharan Africa) people access the internet via their mobile phones. About 10 % of the population are connected to the internet via a computer, the number for the world is 31 % and developing countries 21 %. The reason isn’t lack of computers but of connection infrastructure. Not until recently Africa got internet connection via sub marine cables.

Things are taking place

South Saharan Africa isn’t just something to view upon as a new market but it is a vibrant place of innovations, new solutions or should I say local solutions to local problems but it’s also new applications and new business models. There are a few hubs for entrepreneurs, technology etc. For example Ushahidi, open source based solutions for information and communication, is developed in Africa.

Barry Coetzee starts by saying something like ”In an ever changing world, it mattes where you live. In this globalized time the local has become the most important.” We have learned that we are unique, we have been exploring what that uniqueness consists of and what we can make of it.

Context matter and constraints drives innovation
South Saharan Africa isn’t vey well infrastructured. The reason is that the people there don’t live in cities. They live all over the place. Like in India for example. The big cities are huge but far from everyone or a majority lives there. What we in westen Europe makes are mirroring the way we live in cities and so on, this is why Africa has been driven to find their own solutions, different from the ones we in other parts of the world know.

The rules and measures

For everything invented somewhere else the rules are made up for that somewhere else. The same goes for what we choose to measure and show in graphs, the figures might be highly relevant where they were invented but in another local context other figures needs to be measured. If you look at curves for broadband services that would tell you to never launch a digital solution in Africa. But you should, maybe just in a different way than somewhere else.

Banking in south Saharan Africa

Only 12 % of the South Saharan population has a bank account. Some reason for that can be trust, although you give the bank the possibility to take care f your money they act like if all the data regarding that is theirs. Another reason is infrastructure. There can be days of traveling to get to a local bank branch. So the banks of today has got to get to the people. To their mobile phone via sms services or webb.

Text, audio and of course money

The next thing in Africa is probably audio messages, since a illiteracy is high this cold really help a lot of people. And what the sms-banking shows is that if people demands it – it will be developed and offered. What holds some of the development back (perhaps) is not ability to pay for soft or hardware but the cost of broadband and mobile telephone services.

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