02 september 2006
African IT-company partners up with Dutch development organization
Access to communication is a right for everybody. Inspired by this slogan of the International Day of Telecommunications, the IT-company Manobi (with branches in Senegal and South Africa) decided to give small producers like farmers and fishermen free access to market information by SMS. In Senegal the company now has some 4,000 subscribers. At the wake of day they can check the market prices of their products on their mobile phone. For these small producers this is a powerful tool to increase their revenues, as they have the basic information for sharper negotiations. Manobi trusts that, once these farmers and fishermen have increased their income, they will start paying for other ICT-services of the company.
The Dutch foundation IICD, that assists developing countries in making effective use of ICT, is very much interested in these kinds of applications. Manobi and the IICD will now cooperate in ICT-projects in Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ghana, Zambia and Tanzania. The CEO of Manobi, Daniel Annerose, who came to The Hague for the finalization of the contract, explains to P+ how an African private company and a Dutch development organization can mutually benefit from the new partnership. "Our strategy is to generate the greatest added value for our clients by developing localized services and to encourage mobile telecom operators to extend the connectivity, particularly in rural areas. This means you will have to work closely with the people on the ground, especially the poorest. But they are hard to reach for a private company. This is where the IICD comes in. They can identify more precisely who these clients are and what they require, since they have already projects running in these countries. The IICD on the other hand can benefit from our technological applications, developed for an African context."
The technological solutions are there, but how do you make them affordable for poor people? Daniel Annerose: "We work with microfinance institutes that provide credits for small producers, and together with the GSM association we have launched the initiative to give access to low cost handsets of less than thirty dollars. And together we push the mobile networks to extend their connectivity. It works, but you cannot do it alone."
P+ Webtip: Manobi