5 Mar 2015

East AfricaCom speaker Delia Dean, MTN, on digital financial services in East Africa


We talk to East AfricaCom speaker  Delia Dean, Project Manager BMGF-Mobile Money, MTN Uganda, ahead of the event to hear her thoughts on digital financial services in East Africa.

Delia will be speaking at East AfricaCom this coming 6-7 May 2015 at the Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya. For more information, view the agenda.


East AfricaCom: Please tell us about your role within MTN Uganda and the interplay with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?

Delia Dean: I am the project Manager for the MTN- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Accelerator.  Under a matched grant by MTN and the Gates Foundation, objectives of the grant activities are to extend Mobile Financial Service to the rural poor. Increase uses case of Mobile Money among the rural poor and extend and improve the Mobile Money agent footprint and Agent quality.

EAC: What are the trends you are seeing in the application of MFS across the region you cover?

DD: In Uganda particularly, thanks to the research and technical assistance work done by Helix institute, Microsave and UNCDF, stakeholders (MFI’s, Commercial Banks, MNO’s etc) have become more aware of the opportunities in rural. There are now more discussions on strategy around making MFS affordable and scale able in the rural communities. I anticipate that starting this year we shall see various stakeholders pilot various models in extending their respective solutions to the rural masses.

EAC: How has gender become an issue in the effectiveness of digital financial services in rural areas?   

DD: With respect to the MTN –BMGF Accelerator project our key milestones for every objective, have a special focus on improving mobile money activation and usage among rural women. Our product education drives have a component that is specific to women.

EAC: One would assume the challenge stems around rural connectivity and education of what MFS can provide – is this a fair assumption or do the challenges run deeper than this?

DD: In  addition to connectivity and Education, stakeholders, having identified obstacles hampering the delivery and scaling up of MFS to rural areas, are individually and collectively are working to arrive at solution. Some of the challenges include;
  • Industry regulatory and Policy matters
  • MFS industry standards issues
  • Research and development of products relevant to target market
  • Commercial viability of delivering MFS to the bottom of the pyramid
  • User awareness and education.
  • Public & Private infrastructure


EAC: Please share with us what you are looking forward to at East Africacom 2015 and any message would you would like to deliver to the telceoms/ ICT community attending? 

DD: I am always looking to learn more about workable solutions that have been piloted elsewhere with regards to DFS in rural communities.  Telecoms need to continue investing in R&D to arrive at scalable solutions for the rural poor. Someone has to be willing to be the first to test potential solutions in the market place.

For more information on East AfricaCom and to register, visit: www.comworldseries.com/eaafrica 

2 Mar 2015

VAS Africa speaker William Thubakgale, COO of QPlay on the future of digital services in Africa

We talk to VAS Africa speaker  William Thubakgale, COO of QPlay, ahead of the event to hear his thoughts on the future of digital services in Africa.

William will be speaking at VAS Africa this coming 30 June – 1 July 2015 at the Sandton Maslow, Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information, view the agenda.

VAS Africa: What is the future of digital services in Africa and what do you think are the top 3 major trends affecting your business in the region?

William Thubakgale: Digitally the future of Africa is looking great seeing a lot of start-ups looking for issues within Africa and from those deriving solutions for Africans. We do have constraints though which include data costs, red tapes and digital piracy.

VAS: Are new online distribution channels  providing an opportunity to expand the reach of African artists to international audiences?

WT: Yes, these distribution channels allow international markets to be exposed to African products and services. With this digital phase we have seen how we are living in a global village making it easy and faster to transact with anyone, anywhere.

VAS: Do you feel that  mobile is definitely the future of content distribution, not just music but all forms of content ?

WT: Mobile is the future. From what we have seen – a customer first looks up what they are looking to purchase on mobile, researches on tablet and completes a purchase on desktop. If mobile is the first touch point for any conversion then it is definitely the future for content distribution.

VAS: Are there infrastructure concerns and issues surrounding internet speeds and data costs that are hampering the growth of online music in Africa ?  

WT: Actually that’s the main constrain we are facing as a continent. As much as we may want consumers to consume music we have to provide, the cost must be reduced to allow users to openly consume music.


VAS: Any particular current or recent projects/success stories that you want to share?   

WT: With the massive growth in ecommerce in Africa; I have also become involved in a venture that allows men to purchase Premium Mens Wear – Posh Patterns(www.poshpatterns.co.za)  The immense growth has allowed the brand to grow beyond expectation by exporting to 3 countries just after 5 month of release.

VAS: How are smartphones/tablets & cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in South Africa?

WT: Consumption is almost immediate; With smartphones always being at hand  consumers find it easy to retrieve and use data at any moment. Thus content is king in this space.

VAS: What will be your message at the event?

WT: Let’s celebrate African greatness.