Feature phones still have firm foothold in Africa

HMD Global relaunched the Nokia 3310 in February.

HMD Global relaunched the Nokia 3310 in February.

Feature phones have managed to keep a firm foothold in Africa, driving the growth in total mobile handsets on the continent, while smartphone sales slow.

Naysayers predicted basic cheaper cellphones would be phased out by now as smartphone prices came down and users’ need for ‘smarter’ features grew − like access to applications and mobile Internet.

However, phone manufacturers have seen interest increase in the simpler devices of the early 2000s.

The reinvented Nokia 3310 was relaunched in February at Mobile World Congress by HMD Global, the company that owns the rights to use Nokia’s brand.

“Feature phones today still account for one in five of all mobile phones bought worldwide and the category is surprisingly larger than many think,” says Strategy Analytics director Ken Hyers.

Strategy Analytics released a report saying total global feature phone shipments reached 396 million units last year, 21% of the 1.88 billion mobile phones shipped globally.

In Africa, the smartphone market totalled 95.37 million units in 2016, according to research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). The company said while this was 3.4% year-on-year growth, it represents a considerable deceleration from the double-digit growth rates seen in the previous two years

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Tips to keep yourself safe when banking online

How to keep yourself safe when banking online. (Image source: Business Advice UK)

How to keep yourself safe when banking online. (Image source: Business Advice UK)

The ease and convenience of banking on a mobile device is undeniable. However, this luxury does not come without any risk as cyber crime continues to plague various industries by taking advantage of the unknowing consumer. This threat has seen banks make a concerted effort to educate their customers about the risks that they face and inform them on how to protect themselves by constantly keeping up to date with the latest Apps and security measures.

Kartik Mistry, Head of Smart Devices at FNB says, “Although technology allows you to bank anywhere at any time, the onus is on you to constantly lookout for the latest security measures to prevent fraudsters from robbing you of your hard earned cash.”

Mistry has highlighted important safety tips that consumers should consider when accessing banking services on their mobile devices, either through Banking Apps, cellphone banking and the mobile web.

What to do:

  • Download Apps from trusted sources: It is not safe to download Apps from suspicious or unknown sources as these can expose your mobile phone to malicious malware and viruses that can gain unauthorised access to your private information.
  • IM Swaps: Protect yourself from Sim Swap fraud by always keeping your phone switched on, ensuring that you have connection to the network and can send and receive messages.
  • Cellphone Banking: Memorise your PIN, never write it down or share it with anyone.
    Choose an unusual PIN that is hard to guess and change it often.

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African mobile solutions amazes the world at MWC2017

The conclusion of the annual gathering of the mobile industry in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress (MWC) saw even greater interest in solutions from Africa than in previous years according to the GSMA.

Several African innovators were among the 2200 exhibitors who took part in the 2017 edition of the event, which is organised by the industry body on a global scale followed by regional events like GSMA Mobile 360 Series scheduled to take place in Tanzania later this year.

African mobile solutions interest the world at MWC2017Yasmina McCarty, Head of Mobile for Development at GSMA says the new partners will assist in getting innovative mobile solutions to reach the 3.6 billion people that now have access to mobile phones according to the GSMA.

“Mkopa from Kenya is just one example, in energy, of thirty-two other companies who are doing these kinds of solutions we are now showing to the world. More than two hundred million pounds are invested in energy and the innovation is showing great promise. A lot more people around the world who do not have access to reliable power can benefit from this solution using a basic handset. If a small business has access to a solar system like Mkopa they can stay open for an hour-and-a-half longer every day and that is an extra income or extra time of studying for kids in a home.”

McCarty believes that the success in rolling out mobile money around the world can be extended to reach sectors such as agriculture and health.

“What is exciting is that we now have half a billion mobile money wallets around the world now and about every minute you have thirty thousand transactions. Mobile money is in ninety-two countries now and processing 22 billion dollars in one month so it has become an industry in its own right and that is thanks to mobile technology. We have thirty-five mobile money services with one million active customers in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but Africa continues to be the pioneer. It is an innovation that you can say Africa gave to the world as it has travelled beyond the continent.”

M-Pesa launched in Kenya exactly a decade ago with the aim of reaching unbanked members of the population who were without access to secure and affordable financial services.

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M-Pesa at 10: Africa leads the world in mobile money

Launched by telecommunications group Vodafone/Safaricom in 2007, M-Pesa (“pesa” is Swahili for “money”) has become a way of life for 30 million Africans in 10 countries. More than 80% of Kenyans use the service. The network also enjoys market dominance in Tanzania and Uganda.

The ingeniously simple method of money transfers made via cellphone messaging (SMS) has connected many to formal banking systems and enabled opportunities for small business and informal commerce, as well as played a part in helping to eradicate poverty, particularly in rural areas.

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In 2016, according to Vodafone, M-Pesa was used in six billion transactions. Additionally, research by Digital Frontiers found a 22% drop in female-headed households living in poverty in areas with access to M-Pesa. The same study noted that the source of income for almost 200,000 women in rural areas shifted from the low-income, labour intensive agricultural sector to more prosperous small business creation. The research also showed an increase in saving and investing money through using the M-Pesa network.

M-Pesa transactions are expected to surpass $1.3-billion (R17-billion) in the next three years, according to research by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

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Tracking the growth of the mobile money market in Africa over the last 10 years. (Infographic: CNN)

The future of mobile money markets presents both growth opportunities and challenges. Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore told CNN that the network wanted to focus on developing a better user experience, with an eye on increasing the use of smart device technology in Africa compared to standard text-based mobile technology.

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