iROKOTV, Nigeria

Industry: Media & Entertainment

IrokoTV provides an avenue for people all over the world to enjoy movies from Nigeria and Ghana. Iroko TV has helped revolutionize and glamorize it. Iroko TV, which has been dubbed the ‘Netflix of Africa’, is the world’s largest digital distributor of African movies. Leveraging on an on-demand TV platform, Nollywood Lovers around the world can watch the latest Nigerian movies by paying a fee of only $5 a month. IrokoTV currently has a catalogue of over 5,000 films and over 500,000 registered users.

iCowKenya

Industry: Telecommunication

iCow was created by Kenyan farmer Su Kahumbu.  iCow  is an app that works on the type of basic mobile phones farmers own. Each animal is registered with the service, which then sends SMS reminders to the farmer about milking schedules, immunization dates and tips about nutrition and breeding or information about local vets or artificial insemination providers. It is especially useful for small scale farmers that live in remote areas.

Safaricom, Kenya

Industry: Telecommunications

Safaricom is East Africa’s largest mobile telecommunications provider easily ranks as the most innovative company in sub-Saharan Africa according to Forbes. The reason for Safaricom’s top position is the invention of M-Pesa, Africa’s first SMS-based money transfer service that was launched in the year 2007.

M-Pesa (M for mobile and Pesa- a Swahili word for money) was first launched by Safaricom in sub-Saharan Africa. M-Pesa enables the use of phones for banking related purposes – depositing, transferring and withdrawing funds via text message. This has been very helpful for individuals and businesses as it have lessened the cost of transferring money allowing people in different parts of a country, even in remote areas that are unbanked, to engage in business activities. A farmer can easily send his products to a city and receive his payments via phone. Kenya’s M-Pesa transactions last year exceeded global Western Union money transactions.

MTN, South Africa

Industry: Telecommunications

In 2011, Africa’s largest mobile telecoms operator introduced its MobileMoney Insurance solution, Mi-Life insurance which provides money in the event of death of the subscriber or the next of kin. The Premium payment for insurance is deducted from the subscriber’s MTN Mobile Money wallet once per month. MTN has done a great job of integrating African economies by provision of a reliable and quick communication means.

UshahidiKenya

Industry: Media

Ushahidi was started on the aftermath of the Kenya 2008 post-election violence. Ushahidi (Swahili for “testimony”) created a website (http://legacy.ushahidi.com) that focused on collecting eyewitness reports of violence sent in by email and text-message and placed them on a Google Maps map. It uses the concept of crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability, serving as an initial model for what has been coined as ‘activist mapping’ – the combination of social activismcitizen journalism and geospatial information. Ushahidi offers products that enable local observers to submit reports using their mobile phones or the Internet, while simultaneously creating a temporal and geospatial archive of events.

 Ashesi University College, Ghana

Industry: Education

Ashesi University is a private, secular, liberal arts college in Berekuso, a town near Aburi, an hour’s drive from Ghana’s capital, Accra. Ashesi was founded by Patrick Awuah, a Ghanaian who has spent over 15 years living and working in the United States. He graduated from Swarthmore College on a full scholarship, after which he worked for Microsoft Corporation as an engineer and a program manager for eight years. Experiencing firsthand the dramatic impact that education can have on one’s life, Awuah embarked on a mission in 1997 to provide greater educational opportunities in Ghana. Ashesi is one of its kind – truly daring, innovative, and inspirational.

 The Inye computer tablet, Nigeria

Industry: IT and Telecommunication

Co-founders Saheed Adepoju and Anibe Agamah, aimed to plug a gap in affordable mobile devices with the Inye tablet in Nigeria. Inye’s strongest selling point is its price – currently around $320. Run on Android systems, it can be connected to the Internet via widely used dongles rather than wirelessly. According to the Guardian, local developers are designing apps that address issues such as HIV, water and sanitation and education.

Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe

Industry: Telecommunications

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe’s largest provider of telecommunications services, providing solutions in mobile and fixed wireless telephony, public payphones, Internet access and payment solutions. Econet launched its network on the 10th of July 1998 and listed on 17th September 1998. It is one of the largest companies on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in terms of market capitalization. The company continues to upgrade its network to carry more subscribers, and further widen its geographical coverage, which is already the most extensive in Zimbabwe. Econet has been expanding into other markets in Africa. 

Pick n Pay, South Africa

Industry: Retail

Pick n Pay is South Africa’s second largest supermarket chain store that was established in 1967. Pick n Pay has expanded in other parts of the continent and has a portfolio of 450 stores in South Africa, Zambia, Mauritius and Mozambique and a staff strength of 45,000 people and is among the earliest retail outlets in sub-Saharan Africa to include financial services in its service offerings.

 Famous Brands, South Africa

Industry: Food & Beverages

Famous Brands is Africa’s leading quick service and casual restaurant company in South Africa. Famous Brands develops, operates and franchises restaurants, which prepare, package and sell a menu of priced food items. Some of the restaurants under Famous Brands’ wings include Debonairs Pizza, Wimpy, Steers and FishAways. As of the 2010, the company’s global footprint stood at 1,764 franchised restaurants spread across South Africa, 17 African countries and the United Kingdom.

“Until the lion has his own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story” – Chinua Achebe

Subscribe to The African Economist to receive articles via email.


Picture from TechLoy and Slashphone