Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning, a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle, when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
When Alexander Oswald set out on a safari to Kenya with his family, little did he know that the trip will not only be an exciting experience, spent with elephants roaming next to their tent, but one that opened him to a world of mobile solutions, which have made life easy.
Alexander, who is the head of Marketing at Nokia, covering several countries, including Switzerland, Cyprus, Israel and Austria was impressed at how Kenyans have revolutionized mobile phones using it to transfer money and also make purchases using the MPesa and Zap system.
He shares his story at a TEDxVienna, on why and how Kenyans are doing things better when it comes to using mobile phones not only to call, text and downloading apps.
The senior marketer with 13 years Management experience in telecommunication and consumer electronics industry sheds light on how a simple phone can be used as a mobile payment platform, just like Western Union and MoneyGram. All one needs is to register for legal purposes and locate an MPesa agent from who to withdraw or deposit money. Kenya is a developing country with a population of over 40 million, with 14 million using the mobile payment at least once a week to transfer funds. The system has evolved with time and one can now settle their electricity and water bills, pay for shopping and even buy a movie ticket using MPesa.
Alexander got to interact with a number of Kenyans and got to see how mobile phone payments has made life easy for them, from paying bills, to using them as banks and transferring funds at anytime within Kenya. Mobile payments have been instrumental in almost all the sectors of Kenya.
Months back, the Kenyans For Kenya campaign, which was raising funds to buy relief food for the famine stricken northern part of Kenyans used MPesa and Zap to meet the target of 500 million shillings, with MPesa winning a number of awards globally.
He also shares the M-Farm story, of three women who won the 2010 ipo48 boot-camp event, beating other 37 ideas with their start up that target Kenyan farmers. MFarm enables farmers to inquire current market prices of different crops from different regions, aggregate their needs and orders and connects them with farm input suppliers.
Now you know… ‘Why Kenyans do it better’
Kenyans for Kenya started an initiative to raise money for the crisis in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. By social media and mobile phones within a few days there has been raised over €500.000 by Kenyans, through mobile phones. The NaiLab is running the online campaign.
Last week, I arrived in Nairobi to a chilly welcoming. After one year finally getting back to the NaiLab, where great thing are going on (more about that later).
Barely 24 hours in Kenya, I heard about the launch of the ‘Kenyans 4 Kenya’ initiative and I’m impressed about the impact of it. Let me briefly explain what it is all about. As you know, Kenya is located next to Somali, also known as the Horn of Africa and millions are suffering from famine and drought in the region.
The initiative was launched by the Safaricom Foundation in partnership with Kenya Commercial Bank initiated the ‘Kenyans 4 Kenya’ campaign. The initiative has brought together a number of organizations among them Safaricom Foundation, KCB Foundation and the country’s leading media houses operating under the umbrella of the Media Owners Association (MOA). The effort will be administered by relief agency Kenya Red Cross Society. Other corporate have also joined the band wagon and progress is being noted.
The initiative: Kenyans who’re standing together to help Kenyans who are in, extremely, need of help and have employed the use of mobile phones to transfer funds at no cost. This will ensure that even the smallest donation (as low as Sh10 (€0,07)) is harnessed, as this will go a long way in improving the situation of millions of Kenyans currently staring starvation and death in the eye.
The very same day of the launch, Sam Gichuru (Manager NaiLab) was having a discussion online on how the rest of the online community can get involved and tap more contributions. Everyone had their own ideas but how to bring them together was the challenge. A number of independent initiatives were also taking place online and offline.
An idea floated in, how about we create a platform where we can harness all these together and have a platform that would act as an official platform? The social media team at the NaiLab (they also did the haba na haba initiative that raised Kes. 136,000 (almost €1.000) in six hours) created a Facebook page and within 5 hours, the page had over 3,000 likes. Their wide reach to Kenyans on Facebook has seen the page grow to be popular and more Kenyans are becoming fans on the page every day.
No suprise that the same team also runs the 1%CLUB fanpage…
The team then visited Gina Din, a professional communications consulting firm who are doing the official communication for the initiative and floated in their strategies on how social media can be used to boost the efforts to save dying Kenyans. Since then, the team has been on ground on all the activities and is always in communication with the Gina Din team that sends them updates and any information they would want pitched out to Kenyans using social media.
By the time this blog was going up, Kenyans 4 Kenya initiative had managed to raise Ksh. 77, 633, 983 (over €500.000) and is targeting Ksh. 100million (€700.000) by midnight. Their target is half a billion, about 3.5 million euros. And I think…no…I know –for sure- they’ll going to make it.
At the same moment in my country, The Netherlands, today started the ‘Week of the Horn’ (Dutch). The campaign is runned by Giro 555 (Dutch), a collaboration of the biggest development organizations in The Netherlands: initiatives are starting all over the world.
Neither in Kenya or The Netherlands: we aim the same. Everyone is giving their best 1%.
One of the team members, Stephen Musyoka has this parting shot for me: ”Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your fellow countrymen.”
The quote applies well in this situation.
When thinking about Africa’s future (which few people really do), one is easily lost in a maze of great ideas, contradictions, inspiring pioneers, disenchanting news reports and ridiculously low quality data. Jasper Grosskurth of STT spent 3 years exploring ‘Futures of Technology in Africa’ on a quest to understand the continent’s next two decades.
The resulting book contains lots of insider knowledge, ICT and energy data, insights into future opportunities and risks, future scenarios, a chapter about learning from Africa, a science fiction short story, and much more. You’ll find the book (PDF) right here.
Africa’s ICT future begins with the mobile phone. The 450 million units in use today are the cornerstones of Africa’s first ever pan-continental infrastructure, reliably and affordably connecting all corners, urban and rural. Internet will follow suit, and so will mobile money (pay and/or earn anywhere anytime) and geo-location services (navigation, tracking & tracing, …).
As a consequence, the transaction costs for any type of data (voice, image, video, prices, locations, account information, weather data, code,…) are dropping from outrageous to global average. Business economics 101 teaches us, that lower transaction costs mean more business opportunities for everybody. Read Jasper’s book (PDF) to add insights about changes in other fields, such as energy, infrastructure and agriculture taking place over the next 20 years and your head should start spinning.
All this has an impact on what 1% of time or money can do. First of all, less of anyone’s 1% input is lost in transaction. Money reaches its destination quicker, information is exchanged more efficiently, increasingly complex projects can be tackled through digital and social networks. And 1% really can make a difference.
However, as the amount of entrepreneurship – for profit or not – in Africa grows, 1% will make less and less of a difference. When skills levels, access to information, the sophistication of African economies and the Cheetah generation grow, the added value of the 1% contributions will drop. With some luck, they will continue to drop to a level, where we see a global 1% community funding each other’s great projects.
1% of Kenyan money and skills will then help a cool idea in Amsterdam to move from idea to reality as much as the other way round…
Contribution by Jasper Grosskurth
Geth20 was one of the first companies on the 1%EVENT to give a presentation. The showed us their new game.
The Geth20 Game is a new ’serious’ mobile game about Peace Building.
It is specifically developed for Kenyan youth, to enhance understanding of the basic dynamics of conflict, conflict escalation, the role of the community and the role of individuals in preventing conflict and promoting peace.