The Innovative Use of Mobile Application in East Africa

Staff | THINK! | January 24, 2012

The key questions that this report seeks to answer are therefore; what hinders the take off of m-applications for development in East Africa and what role can donors play in this process? Through mobile phones, farmers get access to market prices, young urban citizens can transfer money back to their home villages, health workers can give diagnoses and collect data, family and friends can easily connect and communicate, news can be spread and read in crisis situations, citizens can build opinion and mobilise.

In just a few years, mobile phones have transformed East Africa, not just seen from a social and cultural point of view, but access to and use of mobile phones and applications is also shaking up the region’s entire economic system.

The ‘killer’ application in East Africa is still voice. Two other strong candidates are SMS and beeping, i.e. to call someone and hang up before the call is answered with the hope to be called back. Data traffic in East Africa is not yet widespread but is coming strong. The simple mobile applications that do exist are mainly in the financial, health and agriculture sectors with a few in education and governance. This study has identified more than 120 interesting applications (see Appendix 2 for the full list), ranging from many small pilots to a few full-scale implementations. So under which conditions are these applications deployed?...