Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh yes we can!

Mobile phones are an integral part of the African revolution
Although many of Africa’s development challenges remain large and complex, the progress underway is remarkable and undeniable, according to a new study from the World Bank’s Africa Region, Yes Africa Can: Success Stories from a Dynamic Continent.

Finally a World Bank publication I actually like!

As part of the study, the Bank is examining more than 20 recent development successes from the continent and is disseminating lessons learned from each of them.

This study is not searching for a universal formula for success,” said Punam Chuhan-Pole, a lead economist at the World Bank who authored the report. “Rather, it is motivated by the idea that sharing knowledge on successful African experiences, strategies, and approaches will help other countries and communities in the region to design their own development strategies and programs.” According to Chuhan-Pole, the study offers practical lessons to inform policy making in Africa, with particular attention to transferability and adaptation.

A confluence of factors is responsible for the economic and development turnaround taking place in Africa: stronger leadership, better governance, an improving business climate, innovation, market-based solutions, a more involved citizenry, and increasing reliance on home-grown solutions. More and more, Africans are driving African development. Yes Africa Can focuses on successful development interventions across the continent.

The study features a couple of interesting stories from Kenya: one on M-PESA (a bit predictable of course), and another one on Kickstart Irrigation Pumps.

M-PESA is a small-value electronic payment and store of value system accessible from ordinary mobile phones. Once customers have an M-PESA account, they can use their phones to transfer funds to both M-PESA users and non-users, pay bills, and purchase mobile airtime credit for a small fee. The affordability of the service has been key in opening the door to formal financial services for Kenya’s poor. Three major lessons have emerged from M-PESA. First, it demonstrates the value of leveraging mobile technology to extend financial services to large segments of unbanked poor people. Second, it shows the importance of designing usage-based rather than float-based revenue models for reaching poor customers with financial services. Unlike a traditional bank, which typically distinguishes between profitable and unprofitable customers based on the likely size of their account balances and ability to absorb credit, M-PESA serves any Safaricom mobile customer who pays for an account. And third, M-PESA reveals the need for a low-cost transactional platform that enables low-income customers to meet a range of payment needs.

Starting in 1991, the nonprofit social enterprise organization KickStart began selling low-cost, human-powered irrigation pumps to enable smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa (mainly in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, and Tanzania, but also other countries) to enhance productivity, improve household incomes, and sustainably contribute to poverty reduction. Approximately 130,000 pumps have been sold across Sub-Saharan Africa, irrigating over 31,000 hectares of land. With a $35–95 MoneyMaker pump, a farmer can grow and sell enough additional produce to make considerable progress from poverty toward middle class. For the people using them, KickStart pumps have led to an increase in annual household income of 100–200 percent. Data from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, and other countries show that 440,000 people have been moved out of poverty through the usage of KickStart pumps. The pumps have also allowed for the creation of 87,000 small-scale agricultural enterprises across Sub-Saharan Africa. Further, the pumps have proven to be cost effective: the annual capital outlay required for a KickStart MoneyMaker pump, is approximately one-tenth that of a conventional irrigation system. The KickStart experience demonstrates that farmer entrepreneurship, in which agricultural enterprises are run as viable businesses and which is now fully integrated in Kenya, needs to be introduced in many Sub-Saharan African countries. It also shows that a participatory approach to rolling out a new technology infusion goes a long way in the absorption of the technology, and that technology evolution driven by users (this was done in the case of the Super MoneyMaker pump) can be powerful in this process. Additionally, the KickStart experience reinforces the idea that people in poverty have the desire to come out of poverty when accorded appropriate technology to generate wealth. Here's a short video that shows how this works:

The World Bank publication also features other interesting cases, such as growing mango exports from Mali, the ICT revolution in Africa, reviving the tourism industry in Rwanda and cocoa in Ghana. So go ahead, and read some good news coming from Africa now!


Anonymous said...

Oh boob we can !!

Katch up said...

Thank you for this

Anonymous said...

african farm land grab.