Influencing methods of business activities, mobile phone coverage in East Africa has grown at a staggering rate over the past decade. By the end of 2015, the regional mobile usage is predicted to exceed 3.8 million people. In the same year, penetration would also expand to 85% according to Jovago.com survey.
Comparatively, this is a remarkable growth. A decade before, most African countries had no mobile phone coverage, and only Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, and South Africa had coverage rates of over 40%. However, the expansion of mobile phone coverage has been the lowest in Ethiopia, Somalia, and landlocked countries of Central and West Africa. Adoption rates also significantly vary over the past decade, ranging from 2% in Ethiopia to over 70% in Kenya which leads the region in mobile money transfer followed by Tanzania and Uganda.
Nonetheless, the mobile initiative has been enjoying enormous continental and regional recognition. Unlike landline phones which require installation of wires and rolling out of networks, mobile phone is primarily provided through a network of specialized base stations, which can provide coverage within a 10 kilometer radius.
As the prices of both handsets and airtime continue to fall, the mobile phone transformed from an elite status symbol to a necessity for almost income levels. The scope, sophistication, and impact of mobile application and services continue to expand with 3G and 4G systems.
Taking advantage of this growth, mobile operators and private firms continue to innovate in their push to reach more subscribers and introduce new applications to do business. An emerging trend in the development of mobile phone-based services and products that go beyond basic voice calls and text messaging brought more advanced services of digital commerce.
The driving innovation and development of new options expand in areas such as digital content, social networking and online commerce. Mobile has already redefined consumer experiences in many aspects of their daily life, as well as created a range of new business opportunities.
New technologies, creativity and business models are generating even more profound innovations, with mobile devices increasingly linking the digital and physical world. Rapid smartphone adoption allows for new products and services to be created, whether based on apps or on SMS components, they are building blocks for quick operation. This saves personal travel, transport and other costs which can be relatively high with a combination of long distances and time-consuming service purchase. The roll out of mobile phones has introduced a new search technology that offers several advantages and easy way of accessing the online market and services without physical presence.
The systems usually involve a set of applications that facilitate a variety of financial activities which include transmitting airtime, paying bills, and money transfer on a mobile device. These transactions which are processed in seconds followed by immediate order confirmation by SMS attract more users every day surfing pro-active portfolio management and updated data. Certainly mobile phones have developed from communication devices for basic day-to-day needs to enhanced way of easing business transactions.