In Kenya, Mpayer, a mobile payments aggregating platform, provides a gateway to facilitate any paying option, ranging from cash to e-money. In Nigeria, the agriculture sector has integrated a mobile payments value proposition (developed by Cellulant, a start-up founded by a Nigerian and Kenyan in 2004, with only $3,000 at hand and now in eight countries) to disburse subsidies for farmers, creating value chain efficiency and while at it, the government also has a new revenue stream from the convenience.
Healthcare standards innovation is another opportunity sector, through text messaging and APPs; mobile phones are being turned into diagnostic and prescriptive tools.
It is not surprising that some investors from developed countries have already started to set up shop in East Africa to catch a piece of the action. iHub, the most popular venture capital fund in Kenya, enlists top international investors to fuel what is now dubbed "Silicon Savannah".
If you were still in doubt about the growth opportunity in Africa, take heed. Foreign investment firms are braving out the storms, of apparent poverty, underdeveloped infrastructure and socio-political dynamics on the horizon by simply focusing on the enormous continental needs, leveraging an opportunity yet again, to replicate effective value models with widespread success.
The international investor funds like iHub must nonetheless be commended for working with home-grown talent, to foster entrepreneurship, create jobs and address start up capital challenges, which are often the bane of setting up businesses on the onset. That said, we must also celebrate African tech hubs such as Ushahidi from Kenya, Umzinda-Umuzi from Zimbabwe that are investing in the regions' upcoming young entrepreneurs as well as creating jobs in the process.
To even fathom that Amazon.com, the world's most profitable e-commerce giant, developed its cloud hosting platform (EC2) by using a satellite team in South Africa is inspiring but also a challenge for Africa's techprenuers. Amazon is not alone in outsourcing development work to talent in developing countries. Many of the world's leading tech giants do the same, accessing cheap but wide range of talent pool, in order to achieve a lower cost of operating expenses.
For the people of Africa, you do not want to miss this gravy train; entrepreneurial individuals have a once off chance to seize the moment by forming budding start-ups. Sixteen-year-old Nadav Ossendryver from South Africa borrowed a Mac computer from a friend to develop a revenue generating App 'Latest Sightings' - in two weeks of limited sleep. London-based Zimbabwean, Tinaye Munonyara, uses the Apple store to distribute for a fee, a self-developed essay correction APP - Study Kit Pro.
These digital ventures can only grow in number; eventually, exiting to larger players and making their cut for the day, just as Elon Musk, South African co-founder of PayPal did, when he later sold the company to eBay for US$1.2 billion in 2002. The cumulative effects of such activities can play a part in boosting Africa's economy.
The private sector has got their work cut out for them in pursuing the diverse market sectors. In Zimbabwe, women alone contribute 53.6 percent of the informal sector economic activity valued at a staggering US$7.4 billion. Sixty percent of Africa's youthful and unemployed demographic is a key segment on which to drive future economic growth.
The northern belt of Africa, synonymous with a lack of infrastructure, is a hotbed for development. As if the problems alone were not enough, mobile innovation offers a return 12 times higher than that of PC internet. Armed with an understanding of geographic dynamics, the opportunity for Africa's techpreneur firms lies in the populace at hand, by developing inclusive platforms that address the treble economic problems of poverty, inequality and underemployment so common on the ground.
Quite simply, Africa is undergoing one of the fastest economic growth curves in the history of mankind, and technology is a key factor in this development. In a world where there is greater access to mobile phones than toothbrushes, conventional business is long dead. Mohammed no longer need to come to the mountain, instead the mountain must go to him.
Natalie Paida Jabangwe holds an MBA from the Imperial College London'sBusiness School. She recently developed NCR Corporation's digital strategy and is an innovator of mobile wallet value proposition. Email: email@example.com