Transcript of "Thoughts about the African Revolution"
Thoughts about the new African Revolution
How Technology is re-inventing Africa
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These are a summary of my thoughts on the effects of Mobile technology and Social Media in Africa.
Part of this post was used for an article I submitted to CNN Marketplace Africa as part of my
nomination for Africa’s Tech Leaders to follow on Twitter in 2012.
Africa before the Mobile era (Africa 1.0, Africa 2.0)
Africa has always been about rapid population growth, food shortages, low literacy level, climate
changes, poor governance and corruption, rampaging poverty before the arrival of mobile phones.
The Power of Mobile
The power of the mobile telephony is forging a new era in Africa where these challenges like poverty
are now inspirational to the efficient use of resources with solutions that the developed world can
Mobile phones have become accessible to Africans at a staggering rate over the past decade. In 1998
there were less than 4 million phones, today there are over 600 millions. Most Africans would buy a
mobile phone before a computer because they are very expensive thus the technology culture took
a different path than the west. This has made developers to be more resourceful and innovative.
Mobile penetration has exceeded infrastructure development like roads, electricity and the internet.
Mobile Technology carries huge economic potential and is unlocking Africa’s potential to transform.
In every additional 10 phones per 100 people the GDP increases by 0.8%.
Mobile as a Gift for Social Development
These ubiquitous devices are not for communication only but they are a way of life. They have
integrated into our lifestyles and culture. The mobile phones are being used also for movement of
money and the spread of vital information about farming, healthcare and many more. Some of these
innovations have been conceived by low-income users themselves, to meet their everyday needs.
These innovations are being developed with little or no resources.
The Africa 3.0
African developers like me are creating mobile-based applications that are solving problems in our
community. These mobile applications are turning mobile phones into a platform of services which
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solve Africa’s development challenges. These solutions are gaining traction in Africa because they
are being built around people's needs, desires, culture, behaviour and challenges.
Reducing Poverty with Mobile Money (Money 3.0)
A good example is Mobile Money which allows users store money on their phones. It is cheap and
easy to use especially for those with no access to banking services. Mobile money is stopping the
rural to urban drifts, empowering the have-nots (and women) to start small-scale enterprises which
is creating wealth, employment opportunities and contributing to the development of the continent.
Reducing Hunger and Increasing Growth with Mobile Agriculture
Another example is Mobile Agriculture which addresses challenges of growing and bringing the
crops to the market. At Next2 (http://next2.us), we are developing mobile-based solutions that can
run on low-end cheap phones for farmers to receive relevant and timely information on shared
farmer’s local knowledge & innovation, crop-saving weather reports, market prices, pests & diseases
data, seeds data, etc and also receive their feedbacks so as to empower them to boost productivity.
With mobile technology, Africans can lift themselves out of poverty, drive agriculture to feed
Africans and the rest of the world and increase economic growth.
The Rise of the Citizens (Citizen 2.0)
Africa will soon be the hot bed of data-driven connected democracy because of the Mobile, Open
Data and Social Media revolution that is slowly building up. Crowd-sourcing and Open Data is
creating a paradigm shift from "Citizen as a victim of democracy" to "Citizen as the author of the
The new development framework for Africa will soon be: Mobilize, Connect and Empower the
citizens by civic societies and the social enterprises so as to take advantage of technology to lead
Civic organizations and NGOs have a big role to play in Africa using Open Data crowd-sourced from
mobile citizens to reap the promises of Open Government and Open Society with Open Knowledge.
Open Data is putting governance into the hands of the citizens (Smart Citizens)
Our world is changing. Technology (Mobile, Open Data, Crowd-sourcing) and Civil Societies (and
Social Enterprises) will soon be running African countries to make it better resulting in Africa 3.0.
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African institutions are often weak, ineffective and many times corrupt but mobile networks or the
large networks of connected users are by-passing these existing institutions with new ideas and
services that will impact on government, corruption, the media, politics, culture, society. They have
ability to make weak institutions stronger and fundamentally corrupt institution weaker.
Mobile networks are creating a connected community of trust that is encouraging P2P (peer-to-
peer) payments and money transfer (Money 3.0), Micro-Insurance, etc in Africa thereby unlocking
the potentials of the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoPs), creating wealth, empowering women and
improving quality of life & homes.
These large networks of connected users are also flattening layers, elimination of middlemen,
wringing out of cost and complexities from the system while boosting its efficiency which is so
exciting when applied to fundamental human needs and desires as found in Africa eg. Mobile
Agriculture (mAgric), Mobile Health (mHealth), Digital Education, etc.
These are just to name a few.
Cheap and efficient mobile technologies are disrupting ways of lives of people in Africa for the better
and also bridging the gap between the isolated African communities and the global market. Mobile
technology is playing a key role in solving the Africa’s economic and social problems.
Africa will also be a good example to showcase how harnessing mobile devices to improve the
physical world can lead to substantial gain.
About Emeka Okoye
Emeka Okoye is the CEO of Vikantti Nigeria Limited, a software development company, has over 17
years of progressive experience in Web, Semantic, Enterprise & Mobile Software development.
An innovative, visionary and creative technologist with deep understanding of the full spectrum of
Data, Social Media, Mobile, and Semantic Web related technologies.
Graduated as a Geologist in 1990 but passionate about software engineering, he built Nigeria’s first
banking website and Internet Banking app (IBTC, 1996), co-founded one of Nigeria’s earliest startup
and built the biggest Nigerian Portal (NgEx.com, 1997), was the Project Manager/Lead Architect of
Nigeria’s first E-commerce Project in 2000 (FSB Bank, Valucard, UPS & Xerox).
He started Vikantti Software in 2006 as a consulting firm offering specialized software development,
technology strategy for the financial sector and Government, enterprise mobile app development,
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mobile strategy, Semantic Web and Open Data development and consulting, and enterprise
Some other milestones
Listed among the 20 most influential technology people in Africa by IT News South Africa in 2013
Named among the Influential people in technology in Nigeria and Africa by the top Nigerian
technology blog, Techloy (2010, 2011, 2012).
Listed among the World’s 20 most influential people in Mobile Money, Mobile Banking, Mobile
Commerce and Mobile Payments by Obopay in 2012
Nominated by CNN Marketplace Africa for Africa’s Tech Leaders to follow on Twitter in 2012.
Built the first Mobile App for Election reporting and violence monitoring in Nigeria (2011),
Liberia (2011) and Ghana(2012)
Worked under the winner of the 2003 InfoWorld Magazine Innovator of the year, Mr. Kingsley
Idehen (OpenLink Software)
Emeka can be followed on twitter via @EmekaOkoye and can be reached on email via