In countries like Tanzania, the internet is often seen as something accessible only by a small elite – those who are already relatively wealthy. A few years ago that was probably true. But access to the internet has been growing rapidly in the last few years – largely the result of people accessing the internet through their phones.
Mobile money has revolutionised financial services in East Africa, starting with M-Pesa in Kenya and spreading from there. The global association of mobile phone network operators, GSMA, has recently published a report on mobile money in Tanzania (pdf), which included the following chart, showing the total value of mobile money transactions each year since 2007:
Yearly value of mobile money transactions. Source: GSMA, data from Bank of Tanzania, Central Bank of Kenya
Two things are worth highlighting here. First, though Kenya was undoubtedly the trendsetter here, Tanzania is fast catching up, and looks set to overtake Kenya during 2014. Continue reading →
The Gates Foundation has produced a set of interactive maps showing access to financial services in several countries, including Tanzania. It uses data from 2012, which in the fast moving world of mobile money services means it is probably already out of date, but I felt it is worth sharing.
I can’t easily embed the interactive maps here, so instead I’ve posted three tasters that show the kind of information the maps can present. If you want the full interactive experience, which I recommend, then head over to this site and select Tanzania from the menu bar at the top.
First, showing the distance to the nearest mobile money agent:
How far to the nearest mobile money agent? Source: http://www.fspmaps.com/
HabariLeo newspaper seems to have engaged in an intriguing bit of late revisionism today. Take a look at the two images below – from the printed edition of the government-owned paper (on the left), and then from the online version of the same article (on the right).
HabariLeo print and online headlines – 22/7/13
For those who don’t speak Swahili, the difference in headlines here is significant. Continue reading →
An old Greek fairytale tells of the hare (sungura) and the tortoise (kobe) having a race. The hare runs back and forth, teasing the tortoise about how easy the win will be. Eventually the hare is so far ahead that it stops for a rest and falls asleep. When the hare wakes up, it finds that the tortoise has already finished.
I often have this story in mind when trying to connect to the internet here in Njombe. We have 2 main options – TTCL “broadband” and Vodacom “mobile broadband” (there are other mobile networks providing internet access as well, but Voda stands out well above the others). Continue reading →
My attention was drawn yesterday (thanks to Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza) to FLOW, a recently-launched mobile phone app that can be used to monitor the functionality of rural water points. It was reported on recently by CNN. This tool, with the full name Field Level Operations Watch (hence FLOW), is the work of the US-based organisation Water for People. They describe it as
“a dynamic new … baseline and monitoring tool that allows us to get a clear view of what’s working, what’s on the verge of disrepair, and what’s broken. Not only will Water For People use the data to make better programming decisions, but governments, partners, donors and the public can also easily monitor projects and take action when necessary. Plus, the data is easy to gather, share and understand allowing us to build better solutions for a lasting impact.” Continue reading →
The potential of mobile phones as a means of mobilising citizens seems to be the topic of the moment. As so often happens in the development world, a new idea is attracting a lot of interest, praise and funds. But is this attention justified by the evidence – have the early efforts to use mobile phones delivered?
A recent book, SMS Uprising, (published by Fahamu Books and Pambazuka Press with support from Hivos), documents several such programmes from different parts of Africa. The book describes itself as taking a “try this in your campaign” approach, encouraging others to adopt the same tools. So they must be confident in what they’re promoting. Continue reading →