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Mobile App Developers in Africa Tackling Poverty

Douglas Carter
1

With all the useless apps we are seeing flooding into the App Store and the AndroidMarket, one would think that we would also be seeing some really useful apps to try and solve major problems facing individuals every day. Africa as it turns out, is a good place to work on the problem of a perpetual poverty cycle. However, the fact that the great distances make cellular communication more affordable than landlines may bring about profound change in so many African countries.

The article from RCRWireless, titled "African Prosperity: There should be an app for that" reports on the actions of mobile app developers in Africa creating apps which can actually help individuals in rural and poverty-stricken areas of Africa. According to the article, data "shows there are currently 280 million phone subscribers in Africa, an overall mobile penetration rate of 30.4%, and the numbers are growing daily."

There are already apps out there which allow farmers to query prices on the crops they plan to bring to market. Mpesa, a mobile banking app which allows people to make payments over their phone, is already being used. There is also talk of adapting this app to eventually build something similar to a credit score for loans and other things.

With the current amount of penetration, and the number of smartphone users increasing, what is keeping Apple and Google from training budding entrepeneurs to create "meaningful, empowering, and continent-shaking applications"?

The answer we can expect right now is probably that it has not been thought of or that it is not a profitable venture for them to pursue. Is that the kind of answer you expect from Apple or Google? Well, I just want to hear them address it. We have a possibility here for real change and usefulness and what is to stop a "One Laptop Per Child"-esque program for Android phones or iPhones? I doubt we would ever see something like that out of Apple. However, Google: I think you can do this. Don't prove me wrong.

Image from RadioNetherlandsWorldwide

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Comments

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    Jay O. Apr 15, 2010 Link

    Thanks for this very thought-provoking article. It would be a big step in the right direction if one of the Smartphone giants started making and marketing apps that could provide these types of services.
    While it's great that there are so many apps out there that are fun to use or make our lives a little bit easier, the types of developements mentioned in the article may prove to be really useful and meaningful to developing countries. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

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