Calls for affordable internet at Mobile East Africa

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

The Mobile East Africa 2014 conference opened in Nairobi on Wednesday with calls for affordable Internet and more end user centered innovations. The meeting has brought together industry players seeking to expand mobile data usage and drive monetisation through collaboration.

In his keynote address, Mobile expert Tomi Ahonen showcased statistics that proved that mobile is the future for companies that want to remain relevant and profitable.

Ahonen  said advertisers are increasingly leveraging on mobile to reach potential customers and the trend is penetrating insurance, banking, media, Gaming, music and telecommunications sectors.

"My theory is that smartphones that cost $600 now would cost $10 in 2019. That has been the trend and more and more people even the illiterate are using mobile," said Ahonen.

“Private and public sectors must embrace science and data to help in making informed decisions...we are in a revolution-transition from basic uses to serious apps that will change our lives,” said Dr Bitange Ndemo, honorary chairperson for the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI).

Dr. Ndemo urged mobile operators and regulators to seek ways of enhancing access to affordable Internet for rural dwellers and provide useful data that would aid in decision making.

In her opening address, Safaricom's head of innovation, Veronicah Ogeto, said the mobile telephony firm is now targeting external colaborators to build apps that resonate with masses' needs.

"Safaricom has an open innovation approach...we are putting building blocks in place with aim to open innovation for external community," she said.

She urged app developers with solutions that can leverage on Safaricom products to get in touch with her team via [email protected]

The conference is seeking to address issues such as ecosystem development, factors hindering progress and how stakeholders are collaborating.

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