The Growth of Mobile Money in Malawi

The Growth of Mobile Money in Malawi

Mobile money is the currency stored in one’s mobile phone. Typically, a customer would bring money to a local agent who would deposit the money into the customer’s mobile phone in the form of mobile money. These agents are also able to withdraw money from a customer’s phone and provide cash. The agents often are local shopkeepers or just phone credit vendors who are trained by the mobile company providing the services.

Over the past 4 years, Malawi, a country where an overwhelming majority of the population lives in the rural areas has enjoyed and experienced the benefits of the Mobile Money services. This is so because 55% of Malawians do not have access to any form of financial institution and only 19% of the total population have formal bank accounts. Since bank accounts are so scarce, mobile money offers an accessible alternative for safely depositing, withdrawing, transferring and even saving money. Apart from bank accounts being scarce, most of the local people especially those who do not have a very good education background find it very difficult to open a formal bank account because of the requirements and language barriers since most of the banks use English for their various processes.

Mobile money has made it so easy for such locals to have a less involving alternative to these formal banks by having less requirements to attain the service and using local agents who easily explain the whole procedure to those who would want to use mobile money. Not only this but also the companies providing the mobile money service usually have Mobile Money Accelerator programs which raise awareness and the importance of using Mobile money services. These usually take place in the rural areas where one would not find a bank. So far in Malawi office projects for these programmes have been established in the rural parts of Mchinji and Lilongwe in the central region, Rumphi in the northern side and Blantyre in the southern part.

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Furthermore with Mobile Money, one does not need to have an identity card or any other authentication requirement to have a mobile money account unlike the banks. All these factors put together, have made the mobile money service to be accepted and used by a good number of people in Malawi especially those who run small businesses in rural areas but cannot have access to a formal bank account. People involved in these small businesses who are mostly women are now able to have a safe place where their money can be stored and saved without having to go through a tedious process. Currently, at least 1.5 million Malawians use the Mobile Money service as compared to the 1.2 million people who are using formal banks. This clearly shows that there is a fast adoption and rapid growth of the mobile money service in Malawi.

Even though Mobile Money usage in Malawi is growing and being accepted, there are still some challenges which are hindering its growth. Firstly, there are only two of such services; “Mpamba” (money in the context of capital) provided by Telecom Network Malawi (TNM) and “khusa mmanja” (money in the hands) which is also provided by Airtel Malawi. This increases a lot of down time for the service due to request congestions caused by so many users wanting to access the service at the same time. As a result, some users of the service feel discouraged thinking that it does not really work and as such they end up not wanting to use the service and withdraw their money out of frustration. To solve this, there is the need for the appropriate authorities to encourage more service providers to reduce these congestions and alleviate the frustrations

Secondly, the agent network involved in the mobile money service is very small. Right now, there are only at least 10,000 agents involved in this business. This is because the commission involved is very low and demotivating to other interested would be agents. Hence, to have a great community of agents to spread and bring the gospel of Mobile Money service, there is the need to have a good raise in commissions. Otherwise, it would be difficult for the Mobile Money service to be taken to all parts of Malawi.

Lastly, if mobile money service is to continue growing at a good rate in Malawi then it would be very essential to review and change the pricing, transaction costs and how they are affecting client and agent behaviour. Most especially, attention must be given to the model of charging per transaction as the current status is often a disincentive.

Profile of Writer Bridget Nyirongo, Malawi.
Bridget Nyirongo is a young Malawian female Computer Scientist (Software Developer)
passionate about using her technical expertise to see and realise a high
representation of females in the male dominated field of Information and
Communication Technology(ICT) in Africa. Since 2012, she has been working as the Assistant Systems Engineer (software development) for the University of Malawi, Chancellor College ICT Centre . She has technical expertise in Computer Programming (Ruby on Rails, PHP, HTML,JavaScript, HAML), Software refactoring, Plugin development for ECLIPSE IDE, database administration (MySQL, SQL), and Networking (LAN, WAN). During her free time she likes baking, reading inspirational articles or books and swimming.

REFERENCE

1. Kenneth Mbewe, The Oracle News, June, 2014.

2. Carrie Hasselback, Technology for Economic Growth: How Mobile Money Expands Financial
Inclusion in Malawi, FHI Project.

3. Charles Simango, the Malawi Nation News, February, 2015.

4. Sunduzwayo Madise. Payment Systems and Mobile Money in Malawi: Towards Financial Inclusion
and Financial Integrity. University of Malawi, November 2014.

6 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE BUYING NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR YOUR BUSINESS

6 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE BUYING NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Deciding which new technology to buy for one’s business is always a daunting task. Especially when you do not have much technical expertise with the many different technologies out there. These technologies can range from different types of software or hardware. The influx of technologies requires a buyer to seek the answers to certain salient questions prior to purchasing. Hence whatever decision that is made must be well informed.

Business owners must seek the answers to the seven (7) questions below before investing in any new technology for their business:

1. Which parts of your business need the technology?
Ask yourself; which part(s) of my business really need(s) the technology in order for the company to work better?
Knowing the exact part(s) of the business which needs the technology will prevent you from wasting money. This might be the case if in your business there are some processes which are done manually such that you spend much of your time doing these tasks, for example; report writing, stock taking, business trend analysis and the like. In this case to reduce the amount of time to complete a task, you might consider purchasing soft wares that are automated and speed up these business processes hence, saving you time and money.

Also note that if a technology you desire to purchase would be rarely used in your business, then avoid purchasing it since there wouldn’t be any or little returns on investments.

2. How does it work?
Knowing how to operate the technology you desire to purchase is extremely important. Understanding the functionalities of the technology and the benefits it brings to your business processes is paramount to your purchasing decision. You will need to ask yourself; ‘is the technology easy to learn? Do I and my staff need a special training on the technology prior it purchase? You will need to factor the cost component on any training and under cost that comes with understanding and knowing how to operate it before making a decision to purchase.

3. What are the indirect costs of this technology?
Usually, when buying new technology, one is tempted to only consider the capital cost of the technology and little attention is given to the total costs of ownership during the life time of the technology. These indirect costs may include; maintenance costs, additional support for the technology.

You might relate to this situation where you are purchasing a software system for your business and the software vendor is the only one who knows the technicalities of the software. The vendor becomes the sole repository of the maintenance know-how of the technology and takes advantage to charge throat cutting prices. Certainly this would be very costly and might adversely affect your bottom-line.

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Even though this is a crucial question to ask, getting the accurate feedback to make an informed decision on purchasing the new technology often becomes stressful. Vendors of the said technology rarely provide all the needed information to the question. A good number of people purchasing the technology would only discover these costs after the actual purchase. Try to do more of online research on the technology. The internet has made it possible to solicit a lot of information on any product or service. Also, speak to an array of IT professionals who might readily provide the needed information.

4. How often will the technology change?
It is believed that technology changes every six months. Prior to purchasing any new technology, ask yourself; ‘How soon will this technology become obsolete? How soon will there be an upgrade? Is the version I am purchasing the latest? For instance, users of Microsoft would clearly see that their soft wares keeps on evolving. It was then Windows XP and its now Windows 10
These technological changes makes it very difficult to take a decision on purchasing technologies. More so, the questions of whether to buy a completely new one or to upgrade the existing one often becomes a dilemma. Mostly, the right decision to make will depend on the type of technology you desire.

5. How will the new technology make or save money for your business?

Any new technology that is decided on should always be in sync with your business strategies. The new technology adopted must align with the business strategies of your firm to ensure high revenue and profit generation.

Always analyze the new technology to understand how it enhances your business strategies. If the two do not sync, you will be wasting your time and money purchasing a technology that wouldn’t benefit your business operations. However if a technology investment will improve the efficiency of operations then it is worth it.

6. How long is the payback period?

The duration for returns on investments is very critical. It is important to clearly consider the length of time required to recover the cost of technological investment.
They payback period of any investment is a very important determinant of whether purchase a new technology. Often technologies with longer payback periods are typically not desirable but they are often worth it.

Brief Profile of Writer” Bridget Nyirongo, Malawi.

Bridget Nyirongo is a young Malawian female Computer Scientist (Software Developer)
passionate about using her technical expertise to see and realise a high
representation of females in the male dominated field of Information and
Communication Technology(ICT) in Africa. Since 2012, she has been working as the Assistant Systems Engineer (software development) for the University of Malawi, Chancellor College ICT Centre . She has technical expertise in Computer Programming (Ruby on Rails, PHP, HTML,JavaScript, HAML), Software refactoring, Plugin development for ECLIPSE IDE, database administration (MySQL, SQL), and Networking (LAN, WAN). During her free time she likes baking, reading inspirational articles or books and swimming.

REFERENCE
1. www.businesszone.co.uk/do/people/five-questions-to-ask-before-buying-new-tech
2. http://katecarruthers.com/2010/02/7-questions-business-technology
3. www.investopedia.com/terms/p/paybackperiod.asp

StartUp Cup Africa Launches

 

 

The U.S. Embassy Accra have commended the maiden Africa StartUp Cup Summit and anticipate it will showcase and celebrate entrepreneurs from every conceivable industry, in a very extra ordinary way and in the process shine a global light on the power of Africa entrepreneurs and start-ups to improve lives.

 

ASC Summit  participants will be taken through a series of practical workshops. ASC Summit offers participants the opportunity to interact with the owners of million-dollar businesses from Africa and global start-up ecosystems and provides  them with free one-on-one mentorship with these entrepreneurs.

 

Ghana will host the maiden edition of ASC Summit on 29th April, 2016 under the theme Growing entrepreneurs and jobs in Africa’s start-up ecosystem”

 

We have made ASC Summit hands on and practical for each African youth to gain lessons and benefit from one-on-one mentorship as well as panel sessions. Our speakers speak from deep experience in business. Some include: Sean Griffin, CEO & Founder of StartUp Cup World (Washington DC) , Diana Ofwona, West & Central  Africa Regional Director of UN Women, Neal Hansch, Managing Director of MEST (Ghana) , Albert Biga, CEO of Zooba Shop (Ghana) , Neeraj Gala, Product & Innovations Director of Bharti Airtel Africa (Kenya Head Quarters) , Ethel Cofie, Founder & CEO  of Women in Tech Africa (Ghana) , Eric Kinoti, CEO of Shade Systems EA (Kenya and Eastern Africa), Lukonga Lindunda, CEO of BongoHive (Zambia), Vuyisa Qabaka, CEO of Entrepreneur Traction (South Africa), Zineb Rharrasse, Founder of StartUp Maroc (Morocco), Ahmed Maawy, Founder of Swahilibox(Kenya).

http://africa.startupcup.com/startup-cup-unveils-international-experts-maiden-africa-summit-ghana/

 

Notes for Participants

 

Venue for ASC Summit: Alisa Hotel, North Ridge, Accra.

Date: 29th April, 2016

Time: 9am to 3pm (6 hours of intensive hands on training and experience based mentorship)

 

START YOUR REGISTRATIONS VIA http://payments.ipay.com.gh/ticket/africastartup

 

For more information, please contact Douglas Ogeto at  africa@startupcup.com or log on to http://www.africa.startupcup.com

You could be jailed for posting that cute baby pic!

 

By Keitu Reid

no babies

 

Often I have been thought of as a prude when I didn’t post pictures of my son online. For me, the reason is basic… if the internet is accessible to everyone, anywhere – how can I post a picture of my son not knowing who will access his images. Suffering from both skepticism and paranoia – I opted to keep family pictures, my hang-outs and holiday destinations offline. I agree that you can have closed groups – except when someone shares your image – it is not so closed anymore. Privacy settings are great – but I am guessing if hackers can get into NASA – they can bypass a privacy setting or two?

 

The decision not to post any of my son’s pictures on social media – or to comment about his latest award, medal, first kiss and the like was about showing him my respect and recognising that he is his own person. It’s about allowing him to grow up without having a thousand of my Facebook friends ‘knowing’ him – while he knows nothing about them.

 

It’s about guiding and guarding his life for as long as possible until he learns from me what responsible social networking is – both on and offline.

I do not post pictures of my son online because I appreciate and understand that being his mother doesn’t give me the right to take away his basic and critical human right… the right to privacy.

 

And so when the French announced that parents could be jailed for posting their children’s images online – I thought ‘Good!’ It is sad that we have to police what we share with friends and family – but the internet is not like going through a photo album in the privacy of your lounge over tea and scones. The internet has identity thieves, pornographers, child molesters, bullies, and many other sorts lurking. This goes beyond privacy and straight into safety. We are women raising children where technological savvy is expected. We have to protect them.

 

Protecting our children is not limited to what we post about them – but also what we post about ourselves. Allow me to illustrate….a minister in South Africa recently had a picture of his penis doing the rounds on twitter. The minister said it was not his penis but some sort of smear campaign. He threatened to sue. I do not know if he did or not, nor do I care too much. Personally, I believe him. I do not think that it was his penis exposed on that photo.

 

However, I do think that his online demeanor, engagements and comments are sometimes questionable and will therefore invite such problems. I recall this very minister sharing a picture of his daughter on social media some time back. So, that day, when this particular penis was doing the twitter rounds …. What resurfaced in my mind was that photo of that little girl – only this time she wasn’t smiling – this time I imagined a sobbing, shattered, embarrassed little girl humiliated that her father’s ‘thing’ is the talk of Sunday Twitter. That is not cool.

 

We often forget that our children have access to these social media platforms and from time to time may peak into our networks. Yes, they are just as curious about what we do online, as we are curious about their online activities. The internet has created a bizarre situation where your 13-year-old consumes the same content you do – very simply and easily – and often uncensored.

 

I am a realist and I realise there is little I can do about that. What I can do is manage my online reputation – in this way perhaps I can prevent my son from wanting to disinherit his family name… and disown his mother.

 

Teen years are tough remember. Kids are moody, volatile and super-sensitive as they navigate the world and come to grips with tricky bodily changes. As a parent – it is unfair to have to expect your child to do this – and protect your honor in the online ‘playground’. Again…. Not cool.

 

Reference:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12179584/French-parents-could-be-jailed-for-posting-childrens-photos-online.html

 

 

*END*

Women in Tech Africa fix a problem!

Press Release

Women in Tech Africa fix a problem!

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In many organizations, the excuse for not having women in senior management teams or women in the pipeline of people they interview for available positions is that cannot find qualified women for these positions.

A large number of technology events usually have very few women speakers and the explanation is the same, we cannot find women in the area to invite to speak.

Women in Tech Africa is solving this problem: since we are the largest group of capable women in the technology industry, we are in a position to show case capable women in the industry who might not necessarily be visible.

Our solution is simple, making the invisible visible; we have created a database of a cross section of our members and links to their LinkedIn profiles and tags of their specialties to help women in tech be found.

The Database is searchable by skill set, country and other details. So today Women in Tech Africa happily invites recruiters, chief executive officers, event organizers in Africa to come and find their next hire, next speaker or even their next board member  at www.womenintechafrica.com

The Front facing cross section member’s page can be found at thttp://www.womenintechafrica.com/amazing-women-in-tech/

There are over 250 women highlighted on the page based on their preference to be highlighted and we work steadily to grow the database to over 5000 women across all of Africa.

Women in Tech Africa is the largest Women in Tech group on the continent with membership of women in over 30 countries across Africa

Why do we need diversity in technology?

Increased innovation

A diverse workforce gives organizations a broader range of ideas and insights to draw on, in decision making and policy development. Diversity makes good business sense.

Improved service to clients

A workplace that reflects the population will understand its clients better, which will lead to improved service. A diverse workplace will have good communication with its clients based on a deep understanding of the needs across the province.

Competitive management practices

Organizations that value and capitalize on employee diversity have productive and fulfilling workplaces which help them attract and retain employees. This leads to savings in recruitment and training costs, as well as maintaining corporate knowledge and expertise.

More Money

Companies that embrace diversity gain higher market share and a competitive edge in accessing new markets – a ‘diversity dividend’ first quantified in a recent study by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI). Business leaders increasingly recognize this.

About Women in Tech Africa

Women in Tech Africa focused on two main goals encouraging women and girls into Science, Technology, careers and preventing women dropping out of technology roles and careers through education, providing opportunities and by sharing experiences and supporting the corporations that hire them.

We have membership of women in 30 countries across Africa, with physical chapters in Ghana, United Kingdom and Kenya and looking to launch in Nigeria and South Africa by the end of 2015.

Women in Tech Africa was founded by Ethel Cofie from Ghana, joined by cofounders Charlene Migwe from Kenya and Josiah Eyison from Ghana.

Learn more about us on YouTube https://youtu.be/N1CAC6btNyc or on our website www.womenintechafrica.com

To Find out more or support the initiative email the team partnerships@womenintechafrica.com