How Mobile Technologies Are Leading to Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

How Mobile Technologies Are Leading to Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigel McKelvey (Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ireland), Adam Crossan (Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ireland) and Kevin Curran (Ulster University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3479-3.ch118

Abstract

Mobile technology today is increasingly being used to help improve underdeveloped and developing areas such as sub-Saharan Africa. With the statistics showing the number of adults in Africa owning mobile devices steadily increasing, mobile technology has been a popular area of interest to use to help improve areas such as healthcare and education throughout African cities and rural areas. Common that ways mobile technology is being used to help the residents of sub-Saharan Africa are in the sectors of health care and education. Mobile technologies being used in these areas whilst simple are incredibly effective and successful in helping to better the quality of health in education in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the projects and systems developed using mobile technology focus mainly on urban areas. While reports state the huge increase in the number of those using mobile devices in Africa, along with the large estimated increase in the coming years, the difference between rural African countries and countries which contain urban cities is substantial.
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Background

Mobile Technology is a sweeping term covering many different areas of technology. Many of the uses for this technology in developed countries include helping with general day to day operations for the user such as online banking, shopping, or social media applications. Mobile technology is a sector which is growing rapidly, and also merging with other sectors to help make use of the technologies full potential. One of the areas where mobile technology has been proven to be successful, is when using simple technology and mobile devices to help developing countries such as Africa (Aker & Mbiti, 2010). Many different organizations and companies are using mobile technology to accomplish huge feats for rural African villages (Abuka, 2016). A leading success story has been the M-Pesa service launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom. This has generator mobile money revenues of more than $300 million in 2004. This makes it the most successful mobile transfer service at this time. It has now expanded to Afghanistan, South Africa, India and Eastern Europe. It seems to have found its niche market. In Kenya alone, mobile money transactions totalled $22+ billion in 2013. Other African countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania, and South Africa are also huge revenue generators for operators as well (BBC Africa, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Short Message Service (SMS): Is a simple text messaging service component found in phones, the Web, or in mobile communication systems. It adopts a series of standardized communications protocols which enables either fixed line or mobile phone devices to exchange short text messages. More commonly referred to using the term “SMS” it is used for both user activity and all types of short text messaging in many parts of the world.

Advance Fee Scam (Nigeria 419): Is an advance fee fraud which involves a payment in advance with the promise of wealth, wills, gifts, employment or prizes. The scammer contacts their intended target via mail, phone, fax, or email. Originally known as the Spanish Prisoner Letter it has been carried out since at least the 16 th century via ordinary postal mail. Section 419 of the Nigerian Penal Code prohibits this type of activity and it has often referred to as ‘419 frauds’ or ‘Nigeria 419’.

Mobile Technology: Is a technology which is used for the purpose of cellular communication. The standard mobile device has moved from being a simple two- way pager to being a mobile phone. Mobile technology as the name implies refers to a technology which is portable. Examples of mobile IT devices include laptops, netbook computers, tablets, smart phones, global positioning system (GPS) devices.

Monitoring Applications: Involve the use of a technology to enable the monitoring of patients while outside of conventional clinical settings (e.g.. in the home), which may increase the access to care and decreases the cost of delivering healthcare.

Ethical Standards: Are principles which when followed will promote values such as trust, good behaviour, fairness, and/or kindness. One consistent set of standards that all companies follow does not exist but rather each company has the right to develop a set of standards which are meaningful to that particular organization.

Developing Countries: Are often referred to as underdeveloped countries and they refer to countries where there is a less developed industrial base and they have a low Human Development Index (HDI). Developing countries differentiate from developed countries in that the people have a lower life expectancy, lower standard of education and the people of developing countries have a lower income and thus less money.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT): Is an umbrella term which includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications. The term ICT however has no set definition as the concepts methods and applications involved in ICT are constantly changing almost on a daily basis.

Mobile Point of Care (MPOC): Involves the use of multitasking devices which support clinician use cases, improve productivity, streamline communication and bridge the gap between inpatient and outpatient care This fast growing area provides an abundance of apps for mobile devices and will change the way healthcare is delivered providing the opportunity for remote monitoring, measuring drug response, tools for drug development and diagnostic assistance for point-of-care and management of chronic or infectious disease.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Geographically refers to all the areas of the continent of Africa which lie south of the Sahara Desert. Some of the countries which fall into this category include countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.

Personal Data: Refers to data relating to a living individual who is or can be identified from the data or using the data in conjunction with other information which is in or likely to come into the possession of the data controller.

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