Mobile Technologies in East Africa: new opportunities for economic growth


Zinaida Novikova


The article analyses the information and telecommunication technologies (ICT) in East Africa countries as a technological platform which carries great potential in its social and economic development. The region has experienced a boom in mobile phone use. The author underlines that a mobile phone nowadays is more than a way of communications but a way of life for Africans: many people lack access to electricity and running water but have mobile phones. Over time the mobile phone has became a technological platform that allowes to develop services. The author provides an analysis of mobile technologies transforming economy and fostering development in East Africa countries.

The study reveals that despite the progress there is a huge gap in the development of East Africa ICT infrastructure compared to the rest world. Also there is a deep digital divide between the countries in the region. There are sharp contrasts between the ICT wage in towns and rural areas. Mauritius, Seychelles and Kenya are among the most dynamic in ICT development in East Africa. Mauritius has long been a pioneer in the telecom sector. It was the first in the region to provide a 3G service, the first in the world to develop wireless broadband network. The author focuses attention on great mobile technologies impact in business. The Smart Cities project in Mauritius stimulates innovative scientific and technological activities. The government has set a package of attractive fiscal incentives to investors for the development of «smart cities» across the island.

The article underlines an increasing mobile technologies penetration into rural areas. They lead to cause significant benefits for rural households as they provide villages and farms with access to information, education and improve access to healthcare. They are used used to spread information about farming, to lower marketing costs and to boost profit. The author the concluds that ICT and mobile networks introduction have the potential to influence economic and human development in remote and isolated villages and farms in rural Tropical Africa with its extreme poverty, heavy burden of infection diseases and insufficient infrastructure in water, roads and power.

The article shows that the mobile money service is transforming Africa. This service is authentically African technological revolution. Service M-Pesa created in Kenya continues to expand into other countries and beyond the continent. Mobile payments in East Africa has become the form of payment. About 100 millions people in the world use mobile money: 40 millions of them are in Africa and 26 millions in Kenya.

The author stresses the huge mobile technologies impact on the real sector of the Africa countries economy.


East Africa, digital divide, mobile phone, payment system, innovation centres




Abramova I.O. Polikanov D.V. Internet i Afrika: parallelniye realnosti. (Internet and Africa: Parallel Realities) Moscow. Institut Afriki RAN. 2001. 171 p. ISBN 5-201-04861-7.
Afrika cherez 50 let: put’ k vseob’emleshemu rostu (Africa in 50 Years: the Way to Inclusive Growth). (accessed 19.02.2018)
Africa Internet Users. 2017. (accessed 20.02 2018)
Digital Revolution Needs Offline Help to Realize It. 2016/01/03/digital-revolution-needs-offline-help-to-realize-it (accessed 25.02.2018)
Dolzhenkov A. Afrikanskaya platezhnaya zvezda (African payment star). Expert. 2017. № 15.
Fituni L.L. Abramova I.O. Bol’shie vyzovy XXI veka: Afrika v global’nykh torgoyikh kollaboratsiyakh. (Grand Challenges of the XXI Century: Africa in global Trade Collaborations). Uchenye zapiski Instituta Afriki RAN, 2017. № 2 (39).
Fituni L.L. Africa: Resursnye voyny XXI veka (Africa: Resource Wars of XXI Century). Moscow. Institut Afriki RAN. 2012. pp.84–85.
Fituni L.L. Mesto Afriki v postkrizisnoy mirovoy ekonomike (Africa’s place in postcrisis world economic). Aziya i Afrika segodnya. 2011. № 1, pp.15–20.
Fituni L.L. Abramova I.O. Prediktivniy analiz roli demographicheskogo dividenda v preodolenii strukturnykh disbalansov sotsial’no-demographicheskogo razvitiya Afriki. (Predictive Analysis of the Role of Demographic Dividend in Overcoming Structural Imbalances of the Socio-Economic Development in Africa (2015-2060)). Uchenye zapiski Instituta Afriki RAN. 2017. № 2(39).
Global ICT Development Index 2017 ITU Data. (accessed 26.02.2018)
Globalniy innovatsionniy indeks 2017 (Global Innovation Index 2017). ru/article/0006.html (accessed 18.03.2018)
Internet Usage Statistics. The Internet Big Picture. World Internet Users and 2018 Population Stats (dec. 31 2017-update). (accessed 20.02.2018)
Istoriya platezhnoy sistemy M-Pesa (History of the Payment System M-Pesa). (accessed 28.02 2018)
Kalinichenko L.N. Novikova Z.S. Afrika na puti innovatsionnogo razvitiya. (Africa on the Way to Innovation Development). Aziya i Afrika segodnya. 2017. № 9 (722). pp. 48–55.
Kenya: elektronnaya registratsiya spasaet zhizni (Kenya: e-registration saves lives). (accessed 01.03.2018)
Kenya’s Konza Technoligical City Vision 2030. (accessed 25.02.2018)
Novikova Z.S. Telekommunikatsii zavoevivayut Afriku. (Telecommunication Are Conquering Africa). Aziya I Afrika segodnya. 2015. № 11 (700). pp. 43–48.
Programma razvitiya OON. Index chelovecheskogo razvitiya v stranakh mira v 2015 godu (UN Program of Development: Index of Human Development in the World Countries in 2015 Year). (accessed at 18.02.2018)
Programma Smart-City po sozdaniyu umnikh gorodov na Mavrikii (The Smart-City Program for the Creation of Smart Cities in Mauritius). Mauritius .ru/news/mauritius58/html (accessed 22.02 2018)
The United Nations E-Government Survey 2014. (accessed 16.02.2018)
The World Economic Forum: Global Competitiveness Index 2016-2017. Gtmarket, (accessed 17.02.2018)
The World Economic Forum: Networked Readiness Index 2015. readiness-index-info/30/10/2018 (accessed 15.02.2018)
Tsvetkova N.N. Razviniye autsorsinga IT-uslug i biznes-protsessov v Gane (IT- and Business Processes Ousourcing Development in Ghana). Gana: 60 let nezavisimosti (Ghana: 60 Years of Independence). Moscow. Institut Afriki RAN. 2017. pp.187–190.
Uganda Hopes to Become a Market for Outsorcing. learning_english-tv-part1/Uganda-hopes-to-become-market-outsorcing (accessed 02.03.2018)
Zin’kina U. Korotaev A. Shul’gin S. Riski sotsial’no-politicheskoy destabilizatsii stran Tropicheskoy Afriki (Social-Political Destabilization Risks for Tropical Africa Countries). (accessed 03.03.2018).