The significant number of people in Africa who now have access to mobile phones, combined with a lack of banking infrastructure, are fueling growth in mobile banking on the continent, industry insiders say.
Business process outsourcing (BPO) is often mentioned by policy makers as a possible money maker for African countries with low labor costs and multicultural, multilingual workforces. But returns on investments in BPO are not coming quickly for the island nation of Mauritius.
African countries are gradually opening up to legalizing VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) services, with both consumers and businesses benefitting from the trend. Although the bulk of the regulators on the continent have been reluctant to license operators other than their incumbent telecom providers, the incumbent operators are signing agreements with VOIP service providers to bring in traffic lost to the grey market. There is no data on users of the VOIP grey market, but analysts consider it substantial.
Several African countries are implementing e-government programs as a means to improve efficiency in their respective administrations. Nigeria is starting to roll out its e-government initiative this month, while others are building up programs that are already in place. South Africa, for instance, is working on enhancements such as local-language translation. Egypt is replicating successful pilot projects, and a component of Mauritius' e-government program -- the Government Online Centre (GOC) -- is expected to be operational this year.
The Nigerian telecommunications market is heating up, as South African service providers in particular see investment opportunities and potential growth in the country's communications sector, especially for mobile technology.
Some African countries are looking at technology incubation centres, and in some cases are vigourously promoting the projects, as a way to bolster national information and communication technology (ICT) development.
The African Regional Preparatory Conference for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Accra, Ghana, put the spotlight on the issue of information and communication technology (ICT) funding for the developing world.