Ten years ago, Africa was mainly known for its scenic beauty, wildlife, obscurity, poverty and at times backward traditions- well at least that is how the Western media i.e the likes of CNN/ BBC would feature us. Now, look at us, Africa, and what creative, life-style enhancing and poverty reducing mechanisms have sailed through; only thanks to a phone?

Enhanced Lifestyle

In a country for example such as Kenya, we now have multiple mobile applications where you can borrow money instantly at a touch of a button. So, when you want to entertain a girlfriend or the ‘boys’, for the weekend and you don’t have any working capital? Your options are very many. One such App is fondly known as Tala, enabling you to borrow and catch up with your friends. Then we also have KCB M-pesa, Branch loans, Timiza and M-shwari to name but a few.

One of the newest entrant into the mobile money market in Kenya is: Fuliza loans or Fuliza M-Pesa, which is an overdraft facility for all M-Pesa users. The facility allows you to complete your M-Pesa transactions even when you have insufficient funds in your account. In essence, Fuliza M-Pesa is is a product of CBA Bank, that is offered through Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform. That means if you want to buy items and you have insufficient funds in your M-Pesa account, Safaricom will fund the difference. Now, as soon as you deposit some money into your account, the company will deduct their amount plus a small facility fee or interest. The amount of money you can have through Fuliza will depend on your set Fuliza overdraft limit. Fuliza, is yet again another game changer when it comes to completing your financial transactions when you don’t have sufficient funds to do so. Talk of great convenience. There and then. Mind blowing customer experience.

Saving culture

Gone are the days where you have to save your money in a bank account to accrue interest. The mobile device now enables you to deposit, withdraw, transfer and even save every single coin. This has positively benefited women who participate in table banking as well as pastoralist communities who no longer have to carry many notes worth of cash and risk theft, injury or death. Mobile technology has made the rate of doing business faster, efficient and enjoyable!

Securing investments

Mobile technology has created inter connectivity, collaboration, networking and a truly global village. Direct remittances abroad can now be possible through M-pesa who have partnered with Western Union. Parents from Africa can now pay for their children’s tuition from a touch of a button instantly. You can wire funds to purchase land, to cater for a hospital bill of a sick sibling or towards living expenses such as rent. By and by- as African countries embrace the use of mobile technology- we will unite together to defeat the one true enemy of human progression- even generational poverty!

Creating employment

Mobile technology will have no bounds and limits. It is only a society that will either choose to build or destroy its nation. The song is often sung of the high unemployment rate of young people in Africa. Yes, we still face many challenges- however, there is hope that our young people can harness their skills and leverage them towards becoming entrepreneurs; thus creating employment for university graduates.

Future is bright

I dare say that the future for African countries, their growing youthful populations and most of the socio-economic challenges will be dealt with by harnessing the power of mobile technology to improve the quality of life in terms of health, food security, disease, education, good governance, growing the economy, enabling the power of creativity and innovations to solve present and future challenges. Whether we like it or not, other countries such as China or the United States will not provide long-term solutions for the African continent to industrialize, develop and rise from a developing continent to an emerging one and then finally to reach the world’s leagues of developed countries.

We have a robust, dynamic and healthy youth population; untapped natural resources; beautiful climate; low levels of pollution and emissions; strong cultural ties; and lastly a hunger for growth and one of coming out of our cocoons of poverty to telling our own story in our own way for the world to see. We are tired of the typical stereotypes by other countries of what Africa is to the world. It is high time that all our leaders tactfully tackle issues to do with  development in Africa using a paradigm shift- and wait to wake up the sleeping African giant to unleash untold potential!