Connected Africa Forum in Johannesburg in May to Show Progress of Mobile Lifeline Services

Johannesburg, South Africa, April 29, 2012 --( The Connected Africa Forum which incorporates mobile money, mobile health and mobile agriculture takes place in Johannesburg in May and will showcase the evolution of mobile lifeline services and applications on the continent and highlight the evolving intersection between the different sectors.

Says the Connected Africa Forum director Sonum Puri: “Mobile money was the pioneering technology in this industry which then expanded into mobile health, and today we find that mobile lifeline services have expanded to other sectors to such an extent that we have decided to bring all the stakeholders together under one roof. That means banks, mobile network operators, third party operators, NGOs, social media and online retailers as well as payment solution providers.”

M-PESA offering mHealth
Safaricom’s M-PESA is already hugely successful with mobile money transfer in Kenya and its Chief Officer of the New Products Division, Betty Mwangi-Thuo, says: “Mobile health is the next big area. We have several projects that Safaricom is involved in that are very exciting; from an M-Health perspective we have the Changamka health card that uses technology to improve access to affordable quality healthcare through a medisave initiative.”

Connected Africa Forum’s Sonum Puri says South Africa is not only a competitive mobile money market, but is a good representation of the different business models that are transpiring from the different stakeholders in the industry.

Continent embracing technology
Soulstice Consulting is a South African company that is finding a ready market in Africa with its integrator platforms for the mobile money industry, currently assisting MTN Swazi and Mascom in successfully launching Mobile Money in Swaziland and Botswana respectively. Says MD Mustapha Zaouini: “The continent as a whole has proven that it is ready to embrace mobile technology, given the astronomical uptake of mobile technology and utility in numerous industries, ranging from agriculture, to education and health. Specifically, Nigeria, DRC and Ethiopia due to the size of those markets. Sudan and Malawi, though smaller, also offer great opportunities.”

Benefits of electronic money will transform lives
The Soulstice MD says mobile money is the way of the future and the business case for it overwhelming. “It has a fast ROI. Where the services have been launched, markets have primarily responded positively, characterized by clear month-on-month growth in subscriber bases, indicating that this is a noteworthy area of investment for all players.”

Safaricom’s Betty Mwangi-Thuo notes: “The rate at which technology changes in the mobile phone industry is amazing, however, what surprises me is the speed with which customers embrace these changes and adapt.”

Says Sonum Puri: “The fact that mobile lifeline services often have such an empowering and visible impact on people’s lives makes this an extremely dynamic sector to be involved in.”

Naomi Lurie, Marketing Director of Mobile Financial Services at Gemalto, another global technology provider in this industry, agrees: “Due to the life-changing nature of mobile money in Africa, there is a lot of good will and a passion behind what we are doing. It is always inspiring to hear the exchange of ideas, successes, challenges, and to realize the benefits of electronic money will transform lives.”

Betty Mwangi-Thuo is a headline speaker at the Connected African Forum conference while Gemalto and Soulstice are some of the exhibitors at the event in Johannesburg from 14-16 May. The event will incorporate both Mobile Money Africa and Mobile Health Africa.

Other highlights on the programme include:
- Sandhya Rao, Senior Advisor for Private Sector Partnerships, USAID
- Sean Blaschke, Child Survival Systems Strengthening Specialist, UNICEF
- Dr Julitta Onabanjo, Representative – Tanzania, UNFPA
- Betty Mwangi-Thuo, Chief Officer, New Products Division, Safaricom
- Maruis Conradie, E/M-Health Executive, Vodacom
- Yolande van Wyk, CEO, eWallet Solutions, First National Bank
- Neil Ahlsten, New Business Development Director, Google
- Lowell Campbell, Head of Agent Banking, Standard Bank
- Francis Matseketsa, Mobile Money Executive, Econet

Event dates and location:
14-17 May 2012
Hyatt Regency Johannesburg Hotel, South Africa
Connected Africa Forum
Annemarie Roodbol
+27 21 700 3558