Authors: Calestous Juma
  • mobile phone with Kenyan currency
    Photo by Rosenfeld Media

The wide adoption of mobile phones in Africa, along with applications like M-Pesa that it has enabled, has created remarkable technological enthusiasm on the continent. Symbolizing the great potential that lies in technological catch-up and leapfrogging, M-Pesa has served as an inspirational example of what Africa could accomplish in other sectors like energy, education, health, transportation, and agriculture. Indeed, countries such as Rwanda are already using drones to transport medical supplies, while the dramatic drop in the cost of solar energy points to the widespread adoption of the technology across Africa. Overall, the mobile revolution has given hope to Africans that they too can be dynamic and innovative players in the global economy, transcending the continent’s current reliance on raw material exports. But while cases such as M-Pesa offer inspiration, the promise of leapfrogging remains largely unfulfilled.

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