Libmonster ID: UK-1362
Author(s) of the publication: N. F. MATVEEVA

N. F. MATVEEVA

Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: mobile phones, mobile innovation technologies, Safaricom, M-Pesa

Africa currently occupies the leading position in the world in terms of annual growth in the number of mobile phone subscribers - 20% in the last five years-and in 2011 it was replaced by Asia, whose mobile phone market is close to saturation. According to the GSMA*, there were 735 million mobile subscribers in Africa at the end of 2012, up from 400 million in 2009 and 2 million in 1998.1 Google estimates that this figure will reach 1 billion by 2016.2.

Influential positions in the African mobile market are occupied by such international giants of the cellular industry as the English Vodafone, France Telecom, India's Bhaiti Group, Sweden's Ericsson, Norway's Telenor and some others. They highly value the continent's resources for further expansion of cellular communications not only as a means of communication, but also for its wide application in various sectors of the economy: after all, many services provided through mobile communications in developed countries have not yet reached Africa.

However, in recent years, some African States have made significant progress in applying various mobile technology innovations. The group of such countries - with the most dynamically developing mobile communication markets - includes Kenya.

The first mobile phones in Kenya appeared in 1992, but the actual starting point for the large-scale development of cellular communications should be considered 1999, when the monopoly position in the communications sector of the state-owned Kenya Post and Telecommunications Corporation was eliminated and private companies came here. As a result, the number of mobile phone subscribers increased from 180,000 in 2000 to 29.2 million in 2012, exceeding the number of landline phone users by 107 times and accounting for 74% of the country's 44 million population (against 1% in 1999).3

In fact, in Kenya, as in other African countries, the number of people using mobile services is higher than the number of mobile phone subscribers. So, one phone can be used by members of the community or customers of a kind of "phone booths", the owners of which provide them with their own device for a small fee (phone rental and call time, calculated in minutes)**.

According to the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), the government's communications services regulatory organization, the number of mobile phone subscribers in the country will reach 33 million by the end of 2014, and reach 39.5 million (83% of the population)by 2016.4

Safaricom was the first company to receive a CSC license to operate in the cellular market in 2000, but 35% of its shares are owned by Vodafone and state-owned Kentell, the rest are freely available. In 2012, Safaricom served 19.6 million customers. subscribers, or approximately 63% of the total number of cell phone owners in the country. Airtel Network (a branch of Bhaiti Group) had 4.38 million subscribers, or 15% of the total number, Telecom Kenya/Orange (a branch of France Telecom) - 3.1 million, or 11%, Essar Telecom (a branch of South Africa's Econet Telecom) - 2.5 million, or 10%.

Compared to the previous year, the number of Safaricom subscribers in 2012 increased by 11%, while that of its competitors increased by 17%, 18% and 61%, respectively.5

Although due to strong competition, Safaricom's share in the Kenyan mobile market has slightly decreased compared to the initial period of its operation, the company remains its leading player, ahead of other mobile operators in introducing innovative technologies that focus on mass demand. The most notable example of such innovations is the M - Pesa payment system (pesa means "money" in Swahili), which has received wide international recognition as the most striking example of the large-scale application of modern technologies in the field of cellular communications in Africa.

The M-Pesa system was developed*** by the English company Sagentia at the request of Vodafone and was successfully tested in Ke-


* Global System for Mobile Communication Association - Association of the global system for mobile phones.

** In areas where there is no access to electricity, car batteries, Free Charge devices that need to be turned manually, and solar panels are used to recharge cell phones.

*** A grant from the British Government was granted for this purpose.

page 45

research institute in 2007 in the field of ce of the original purpose-microfinance: the project participants used mobile phones connected to the M-Pesa service (via a SIM card) to receive small money on credit and repay it through the Safaricom operator. This allowed the microfinance organization Fauly involved in the project to reduce the cost of maintaining its branches and working with cash, and as a result, provide start-up companies* with loans on more favorable terms, which accelerated the growth of their number.

After a 9-month monitoring of the project results, Safaricom IT operators found that with a certain adjustment, the M-Pesa system is suitable not only for microfinance settlements (although mobile money continues to be widely used in this area), but also for sending money directly from the sender to the recipient on the B2B (business to business) principle. without resorting to the services of banks.

It should be noted that performing various payment operations using a mobile phone is not something fundamentally new for the developing world. Before the advent of this method of payment in Africa, it was already practiced, in particular, in Brazil, the Philippines, and some other countries. However, Kenyan M-Pesa is the most versatile and easiest to use.

For this purpose, the most common mobile phones in Africa are suitable, and money is sent using simple SMS messages. In order to use the M-Pesa service, you need to register and receive its SMS confirmation from Safaricom agents. They can be the owners of kiosks, shops, convoys, pharmacies, etc. that are found everywhere, who deal with cash and help beginners master this system.

You can deposit money to your "mobile wallet", withdraw it from it, and receive the amount sent by mobile phone. You can transfer money to someone's "mobile account" from anywhere**. A small percentage is charged for this operation. In 2012, mobile money transfer revenue accounted for about 20% of Safaricom6.

To promote the M-Pesa service (and encourage growth in the number of its subscribers) Safaricom launched an advertising campaign under the slogan " Send money by phone!": The mobile operator focused primarily on such potential buyers of its product as migrants working in cities and their financially dependent rural relatives, i.e. very large segments of the population in African countries.

At that time, 58% of all the money earned by migrants came to the village by transferring them from hand to hand (in order to get them from city to village, you had to start a long journey on worn-out mini - buses that often get into accidents-matatu) and 17% - through intermediaries (mainly, matatu drivers)7. All this was very risky, and failure to receive money on time sometimes turned into a real disaster. The transition of migrants to transfer money to their relatives by mobile phone has led to a decrease in these indicators.

The campaign has helped to increase the number of mobile phone subscribers using the M-Pesa service, not only at the expense of migrants and their relatives, but also numerous representatives of other segments of the Kenyan population who, for various reasons, do not use the services of banks.

So, to become a bank client, you need to save up a certain amount for the initial payment (which is very difficult for low-income categories***), present, in addition to your passport, a paid utility bill and thereby confirm registration at your permanent place of residence, and many in Kenya-also migrants-do not have it the remoteness of banks concentrated in large cities, as well as high bank interest rates, serve as an obstacle for many small entrepreneurs, representatives of small and medium-sized businesses operating in rural areas.

For the population that is not covered by banking services, the ability to transfer and receive money using a mobile phone is of great importance. This guarantees the safety of earnings, eliminates the need to have cash with you (when the entrepreneur's occupation requires it) and always be afraid of robberies, receiving fake money as payment for goods or services.

In today's Kenya, mobile money can be used to pay for a taxi ride, lunch in a tavern, drinks in a bar, overnight in a hotel, vehicle repairs, purchase of goods, and so on. Parents of students who receive education far from home - in boarding schools-send them small amounts of money by mobile phone for "pocket expenses", etc. This way they pay for the services of hospitals, schools, and public utilities; those working in the formal sector receive wages.

Overall, the number of people using the M-Pesa service in Kenya currently exceeds the number of bank account holders. It is also characteristic that for the latter, instant sending/receiving money using a mobile phone is often more profitable, since to carry out such operations*** * through a bank, you need to spend time traveling there and then-


* Companies with a short operational history that are established recently, are currently developing or exploring promising markets.

** If you lose your phone, its owner has nothing to fear that someone will use his "mobile wallet", because the M-Pesa service is protected by a pin code.

*** About half of the Kenyan population lives on $2 or less a day.

**** We are talking about small and medium-sized businesses.

page 46

I was waiting in lines. In addition, the absence of the need to pay bank interest for sending money reduces the cost of operating expenses for transactions.

Practice has shown that the possibilities of the M-Pesa service are still far from exhausted. For example, Safaricom's IT specialists recently added an additional feature to the service, M-Pesa International Money Transfer (IMT), which enabled migrants working abroad to send money to Kenya via Western Union8. Currently, money transfers to Kenya from 45 countries, including Russia, are carried out in this way9. (Recipients of money* do not need to become customers of Western Union, but simply show an identification document at any of its Kenyan branches, indicate the sender's name, mobile phone number, transfer number and its exact amount.)

In 2013, Safaricom partnered with a Kenyan Commercial Bank to test a new M-Pesa feature called M-Shwari ("calm" in Swahili). The service allows you to store mobile money in a bank to receive interest**. You can subscribe to M-Shwari directly from your mobile phone by transferring money from the M-Pesa service. Its new feature is also used to receive and repay 10 micro-loans.

Currently, other mobile operators operating in Kenya offer their M-Pesa analogues (Airtel money, Orange money, Yu cash). Some of the country's major banks, such as Barklays Bank (Hello money system) and Commercial Bank of Kenya (Mobil Bank), are also switching to mobile money to maintain their clientele. However, the M-Pesa service from Vodafone / Safaricom, a pioneer in the introduction of mobile money into circulation not only in Kenya, but throughout Africa, has an indisputable primacy.

The M-Pesa payment system is also used in Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa. Its analogues are popular in Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Egypt, Gabon, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. At the same time, Kenya ranks first in the world in terms of the proportion of the population (relative to its total number) using mobile phones with the same payment system*** 11.

In total, 19 million people used mobile money in Kenya in 2012 (M-Pesa - 15 million, compared to 52 thousand in 2007), or about 65% of all mobile phone subscribers, and their total deposits amounted to 185.4 billion ken. shill ($22 billion). There were about 45 thousand agents of mobile operators in the country12.

The introduction of mobile money into circulation contributes to the growth of employment and income of the population, the development of entrepreneurship, the acceleration of money circulation, the rise of business activity and the increase in the country's GDP. The very way of social life and models of traditional behavior are changing. So, the long-established procedure for raising funds to help someone is being" corrected "according to the tradition of"harambee"****. Previously, its mandatory attributes were collective gatherings, putting "hats in a circle", dancing, songs, treats, etc. Now, not everyone considers it necessary to physically participate in the fundraising ceremony: after all, it is enough to have a mobile phone.

In the same way, 750,000 Safaricom subscribers showed their commitment to the common cause, sending 165 million ken. shill ($1.9 million) via mobile phone.***** to purchase water and food for the starving population of areas affected by severe drought. The fundraiser was part of the "Kenyans for Kenya" campaign, organized in 2011 by the Kenyan Red Cross Society and Safaricom13. The campaign was awarded by the United Nations Foundation, established to support the initiatives of African States under the Millennium Development Goals Declaration.

The use of innovative mobile technologies in Kenya is not limited to the payment and financial sector. They are used in agriculture, healthcare, medicine, and education.

Using a special mobile phone app developed by Safaricom, farmers learn about the prices of various agricultural products on the Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange (KACE). The same information can be obtained using the smartphone app M-Farm, developed by a local startup company with the same name. M-Farm also helps buyers of a product connect with its suppliers. Using a smartphone app offered by specialists from the University of Nairobi, the spread of diseases of grain crops is tracked.

In Kenya, the GSMA Development Fund's M-Kilimo ("agriculture" in Swahili) communication line provides small producers of agricultural products with real-time mobile phone access to useful information from agricultural specialists (about animal diseases, prices, expected weather, etc.) 11

Mobile communications have helped a group of American scientists determine that the key factor in the spread of malaria in Kenya is not a local increase in mosquito populations that carry the disease, but its transmission from person to person. For this purpose, in 2008 - 2009, they monitored in detail the information received from the Safaricom relay towers about the specific location of each of them.


* The same as for senders.

** Money stored in M-Pesa accounts does not generate revenue.

*** In developed countries, bank cards, ATMs or the Internet are mainly used for various payment operations.

**** "Pull together" in Swahili.

***** Information about each payment was published in the press (based on the time of sending SMS).

page 47

15 million owners of 15 mobile phones selected for research purposes.

UN Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) experts have chosen Kenya to test some innovative mobile technologies for transmitting information that is important for solving the problem of life support for the population. For example, in a number of arid regions of the country, community representatives regularly transmit water level information to the FAO Regional Office for East and Central Africa (headquarters in Nairobi) using mobile phones with Internet access and Nokia Data Gathering* technology. This is done in order to take timely preventive measures in the event of a drought threat16.

In 2013, the organization's specialists began pilot testing mobile phone applications in Kenya that are connected via the Internet to the Global Positioning System, which sends information in just a few seconds. The system will help veterinarians track the implementation of animal vaccination campaigns and other veterinary procedures, count the number of livestock heads in a particular herd, its movement, etc., and immediately notify about the occurrence of epizootic foci 17.

In 2013, British scientists tested a smartphone app in remote areas of Kenya that allows you to determine visual acuity, pick up glasses, and detect cataracts and glaucoma.18

Mobile phones in Kenya play a major role in the development of the Internet communication system: they make the** network accessible to 99% of all Internet users.19 Their total number in the country reached 14 million in 2012 (representing about 30% of the Kenyan population, compared to the African average of 16%), up from 11 million in 2011 and 8 million in 2010.20

Kenya had 6.5 million Internet subscribers in 2012, an increase of 39% compared to the previous year. At the same time, the share of smartphone owners (mainly running on the Android operating system) accounted for approximately 20% 21. The number of smartphone owners in the country has a pronounced upward trend, despite the fact that the price of these gadgets is 4-6 times higher than the price of a regular mobile phone (equal to about $20).

In 2007, Kenya adopted a document defining the main directions of social development of the country until 2030 (Kenya Vision in 2030). It highlights, in particular, the importance of developing mobile technologies and achieving universal access to telecommunications for all Kenyan citizens as essential to improving their well-being.22

In the years that have passed since the adoption of this document, the country has made significant progress in the development of the IT sector, which is facilitated by an active state policy to support the development of innovations related to mobile technologies, tax incentives for private businesses, and a high level of freedom for foreign investment. Specialized network centers for the development of technological innovations are emerging in the country-hubs***, business incubators to support start-up companies working in this area, such as M-Farm, Med-Kenya (development of the Medical Reference application), eLemu (tablets for schoolchildren), etc.

Google, Microsoft, Nokia, and Vodafone have their offices in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where Kenyan youth receive internships and jobs. In 2012, IBM opened in Kenya the first of its kind in Africa research laboratory for basic and applied research in the field of IT.

* * *

In early 2013, Kenya launched a project under the Kenya Vision document to establish the Konzo Techno City Technology Innovation Center in Konzo, 64 km south of Nairobi. This future hub has already received the name "African Silicon Savanna" 23, which speaks for itself.


* The technology is also being tested in Kenya's neighboring Uganda and Ethiopia.

** In mid-2010, the east coast of Africa was connected to the data transmission system via fiber-optic submarine cables running from the coasts of India and OAF. Access to high-speed Internet via cables is one of the most important factors for the long-term development and development of the telecommunications sector.

*** Hub - the center of events, attention, and activities. This is an element of the innovation infrastructure.

1 ISISC News. Africa's Mobil Phone Industry 'booming'. 9.10.2012 - http://www.bbc.coilk/news/

2 CNN Global News View. 11.09.2012.

3 The Insider's Guide to Mobile Web and Marketing in Kenya 2012 - http://mobithinking.com/country-guides-home/

4 Business Monitor International. 05.2012.

5 Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK). 07.2012.

6 Kenya: Major African Mobil Markets - hltp://www.afrilcantelecom/com/rccourscs/

7 Fin Access. 2007 - http://siferesources.world.

8 Money News. 17.11.2009.

9 Western Union launches mobile money transfers from Russia to Kenya 01.04.2011 - www.banking.ru

10 Is it a phone, is if bank? - The Economist. 30.03.2013.

11 The Insider's Guide...

12 Communication Commission...

13 The Insider's Guide...

14 African Mobile Observatory, 2011. P. 29.

15 Science. 12.10.2012.

16 Mobile phones are revolutionizing Kenya's livestock industry. FLO, 01.03.201 - http://www.fao.org/news/

17 Ibid...

18 About the eye. 17.08.2013.

19 The Insider's Guide...

20 Kenya Mobile & Internet by the Numbers (GM2012) - http://whilleasfrican.com/2012/

21 The Insider's Guide...

22 Republic of Kenya. Kenya Vision 20.40. 2007 - http://www.thereddesK.org/sites

23 For more information, see: Panzerev K. A. Should there be a "silicon savanna"in Kenya? // Asia and Africa today. 2011, N 8.


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