Category Archives: Technology

Kenya’s informal economy clambering on to the information highway through their smartphones

Sometimes cliches are the only way to communicate the sheer breadth and depth of the transformation now undergoing in the informal sectors, such as trade and light manufacturing, thanks to affordable smartphones and data bundles. I began calling it digital and not online yesterday when we discovered many people didn’t recognize the word “online” in […]

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The role of the grey market in Africa’s mobile telephony boom years

The grey market refers to goods which have been manufactured by or with the consent of the brand owner, but are sold outside of the brand owner’s approved distribution channels – which can be perfectly legal. (1) In Africa’s teeming business districts and electronics mega markets, the concept of grey market products underwent an evolution […]

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Mobile Phones and the Informal Economy

Over the past week or so, I’ve been scanning literature from African researchers on the broad theme of mobile phones and the informal economy. Here are some of my top findings: The Mobile Phone is a Business Tool and Income Generator – Regardless of the region (and cultural context) of study –  Cameroon or Cote […]

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Emergence of a decentralized digital economy? Snippets from Nigeria and Kenya

Continuing the conversation from the recent posts on app enabled demand redistribution as well as digital platforms being used by informal sector economic actors to boost their own productivity and efficiency, I thought to share snippets from these two recent articles I just came across, as cases in point. From Nigeria, West Africa: How WhatsApp […]

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Lessons from African Fintech for the Gig Economy

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to share my research on the past decade of mobile ecosystem development across the African continent with Dr. Antti Saarnio, founder of Zippie; co-founder of Jolla (developers of the Sailfish OS, among other things). “We want to test our product first and foremost in Africa because there is […]

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The Quiet Digital Revolution: Indigenous Innovation in Intelligent Information Systems

Big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are the buzzwords of the day, along with the obligatory blockchain and bitcoin. Much is being written on their potential to solve Africa’s problems, or India’s challenges. In turn, each has been promoted as the next big thing to address poverty and its discontents. Yet, we note, that […]

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All Hail the Business Model Behind the Global Gig Economy

The first world’s ardent embrace of the gig economy is already over. Buyer’s remorse is setting in, even though it may have helped global unemployment hit its lowest point in forty years. What will remain, however, is its impact on the usually overlooked Rest of the World, where the ability of an app to drive […]

Also posted in Biashara Economics, Business Models, Cashless transactions, Commerce en ligne (e-commerce), Consumer Behaviour, Culture, Emerging Markets, Flexibility, Frameworks, Income, Informal & Flexible, Mobile platform, Perspective, Platforms, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector, Systems | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Africa’s Delivery On Demand Apps are Transforming the Informal Economy

When women in rural Rwanda can buy sanitary napkins and contraceptives, on demand, simply by pushing a few buttons on their phones, you know the digital informal economy is here to stay. And, its not just imported apps and social enterprises pushing this digital commercial activity. The “uberization” of the African informal economy is well […]

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From the Caterpillar to the Butterfly: Africa’s Mobile Boom Years Are Over, Here’s What Next

For the past 15 years, Africa watchers have been waiting for her mobile phone industry to reach a critical landmark – almost full saturation of the market. This milestone may be close at hand, as recent news and data show. In June 2018, Kenyan mobile subscriptions reached 98% penetration, a 13% jump over the previous […]

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