Monday Moments Ep 9 – Mobile, Mobile, Mobile!

I Love my job!! That’s not something I hear many people saying about their jobs (probably the reason why most of us revere Entrepreneurs like little gods). I believe that for someone to Love what they do, be it in employment or even if they own a business, three things must be; Challenge, Fulfillment, Growth. Without challenges to overcome, you will never get to experience the joy of fulfillment. With no fulfillment, growth eludes you like a shadow.

Last week I came into close contact with some very important people in the local mobile industry. Kiran from Interactive Marketing Services (one of the pioneers of mobile content and TV Game shows in Kenya), Susan from Cellulant (No. 1 in the 2008 Top 100 mid sized company awards), Mwaniki from (the mobile directory company that’s taking the local scene by storm) and of course Hon. Eng James Rege, the e-Mheshimiwa who I blogged about last week. Today’s Monday Moments is 95% Mobile just to warn you in advance 🙂

  1. The Man, his IPad and experience that makes me feel this small!
    I’ve had 70 people so far read my article on the e-Mheshimiwa. If you are not one of them please go ahead and read it. This man represents for me what Leadership in this era should be all about. Passion and Principle, of course interspersed with the comic relief we like to call Politics.
  2. Kenya, Nigeria then South Africa
    The Mobile internet proliferation started off in South Africa then skipped rope to Nigeria before it finally found a home in Kenya. Here’s why. While South Africa’s mobile internet as well as mobile commerce has so far mostly remained the reserve of the urban and educated, and while Nigeria has only been placed on the mobile internet map by its vast population, Kenya has joined this league through the sheer power of national acceptance, from the hip urban user in the City, to the uneducated potato farmer in the village. If you don’t believe me ask Comscore!
  3. Haki Yeeetu!
    I hope I’m not being too presumptuous by assuming every East African knows what that means. Premium Rate Service Providers (PRSPs) in the local mobile industry have been in existence for virtually as long as mobile networks. From ringtone downloads, to news alerts, to business news, to love texts, to football scores to bible and Quran verses you name it, these guys started the local content revolution long before it became a buzz word. The sad news? The Telcos take home up to 60% of what they make from this content! Add to it the taxes and ridiculous licensing charges they have to part with and they are literally in the business of making others richer! One Telco is said to have made Kshs 2 Billion in just one year from PRSPs! Do the math and see how much the PRSPs made.
  4. Where did M-PESA originate from?
    I don’t think answer is Somalia. But oh what a story it would be if it was. Thanks to the madness that has plagued that land for decades, Somalis are spread all over the world and most are doing quite well. Let’s say Knaan has an uncle back in Mogadishu. He would like to send some money back since he is making some decent mullah now, but you see they don’t enjoy the electronic money transfer facilities that we take for granted here. Knaan walks into a little shop in the States, and gives this money to the grim looking Somali fella in the back office. This fella waits until the appropriate time, and makes a call to another fella back in Somalia, who is probably operating from some secure underground joint, away from the bullets and missiles. This guy uses local means to find out where Knaan’s uncle is, and gives him the money. Every 3 months or so, the fella from the U.S and the fella from Somalia will meet up to reconcile numbers. Millions of dollars are transferred this way every year. With the likes of Dahabshiil, this process is slowly changing but since the 1970’s the above has been the scenario.
  5. What do Africans consume on their Mobiles?
    I wrote an article a while back, questioning whether Google was the way forward for Africa. My main point of argument was that Africa, like Asia, is such a unique place culturally that only someone who understands who we are would better serve us content. I didn’t think Google was this someone. Google is already trying to crowd source local content for its search engine, so I guess I wasn’t so wrong. Mobile isn’t any different either. One PRSP tried serving sexual content a while back and not only didn’t they make any reasonable returns from it, they almost got censured for it.   The same PRSP served Quran quotes during the month of Ramadhan and made over 10 Million bob within the month.
  6. What’s your take on Chinese Phones?
    Allow me to repeat what I told the group of mobile crème last week, sparking quite a debate in the process. I do NOT think the Chinese Business model when it comes to mobile handsets will last. A couple of years back these Chinese phones landed into the local market with the promise of lower prices for the same features (more in some cases) as main stream handsets. That worked then. They made their money. The Nokias and Samsungs of this world lost money and learned their lesson. This is changing. Now I’m able to get a decent Nokia phone for the same price as these Chinese gadgets, without compromising quality. Why would I still buy a Chinese phone?
  7. So where does Mobile content come from?
    From You and I of course! M-Farm will provide farmers with market prices. Sakanya will track and help you find your lost documents from your mobile phone. TaxiMatch will help you find your nearest legitimate cab driver using your phone and the list goes on. This industry has only just started so there’s room for you too!

Off to finish a mobile marketing plan for a client.

4 Responses to “Monday Moments Ep 9 – Mobile, Mobile, Mobile!”

  1. 1 mmnjug November 22, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    We also have @Martha_W_Karua and @Gatanga_Kenya aka Peter Kenneth on twitter. They are moving in slowly but surely. I think 2012 elections will be the ‘tipping-point’ as @alykhansatchu is wont to say.

    Lets just say that Kenya is now the Silicon-Valley of mobile technology! This is where its happening, from iHub, to NaiLabs to upcoming ICT-Centers, the future is so bright, its blinding.

    If only CCK can give the PRSPs a shot in the arm, it would explode more than its current position. That will happen sooner rather than later. Watch the innovation compe within the Telcos.

    I told someone some times back that Chinese phones will not be sustainable in the long-run for the simple reason that they do not work well on the internet browsing. That is one thing that irks the youth who need fast internet on EDGE and 3G platform which the Chinese can’t offer. By losing the youth, the Chinese phones had become undone on the most important market demographic as far as any goods/services are concerned.

    Therefore, we still have a lot of mobile content to look out for, mobile-health etc.

  2. 2 Chinta November 23, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Quite right about your short musings on “Kenya, Nigeria then South Africa’. However, on ‘What’s your take on Chinese Phones?’ i beg to differ. You know why Kenya is running close behind south africa and 2nd after Nigeria…it is because of the availability of chinese phones. SA trades in authentic phones and most of the poor can have them on credit. If this was the case in Kenya, which is economically far from SA, very few could afford them. The same is the case in Nigeria..besides its population giving it numbers.

    You may want to follow my blog at
    and on Twitter at Kenya_politico


  1. 1 Monday Moments Ep 10 – A Content Hungry People! « Intervangelist East Africa Trackback on November 29, 2010 at 10:50 am
  2. 2 Monday Moments Ep 11 – The Best 7 of 2010!! « Intervangelist East Africa Trackback on December 5, 2010 at 2:41 pm

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