Digital Money In Action: Will the World Embrace a First From Africa?

The advent of mobile telephony in Africa has been slow. The regulatory environment had stifled the growth by creating a bureaucratic red tape that was a hindrance to many mobile phone service providers from the developed world to invest in Africa. To them Africa was a risky place to do business. This was due to the many internecine conflicts that characterized the African nations after many states had gained autonomy from their colonial masters.

But with the advent of information technology Africa had to reform its regulatory environment to allow the uptake of new trends in technology like the mobile phones to avoid being left in a time warp in a world that was moving towards becoming a global village.

Kenya was no exception; with the improvements in the regulatory environment, majority of Kenyans now own a mobile phone.This has been due to the registration of several mobile phone service providers that offered a wide choice and great variety to choose from. There are two major players in this service industry: Safaricom a joint venture between the government of Kenya and Vodafone, UK and Bharti Airtel from India. The choice of the service provider to choose depends on the added functionalities that the provider gives her clients.

The provision of mobile money transfer by the main mobile service phone provider Safaricom has revolutionized the way Kenyans do business. Kenyans in the urban centers and cities across the country have found an efficient, safe and reliable way of sending money to the rural areas. This has provided an opportunity for Kenyans who took long periods away from home to remit funds for school fees, money to plough land, to pay medical bills and many other services. In the urban centers Kenyans are able to pay for utilities from the comfort of their homes provided they have money in their virtual accounts in their mobile phones.