Mobile Technology, Internet Connectivity, and Development in Africa

Earlier this week, I participated in Time magazine’s “The Future of Mobility” panel, which focused on the implications of mobile technology for the developing world. As I’ve previously noted, certain advances in mobile technology in places like Kenya could leapfrog those in the United States. Perhaps the best example of this is mobile money, which is taking off in Africa but still struggling to get traction in the U.S. As Kiva CEO and co-founder Matt Flannery remarked during the panel, “Mobile money in Africa is a solution to a problem, whereas in the United States, mobile payments are a solution looking for a problem.” Satisfied with widely accepted credit cards and easily accessible online checking accounts, people in advanced economies have less need to adopt mobile phone-based banking; in Kenya, where access to traditional banking is far more limited, some 40 percent of the adult population now uses mobile money. source