It’s no secret that mobile technology is one of the fastest growing sectors in the continent. In the first quarter of 2015 an estimated 910 million Africans had access to a mobile phone. At the rapid pace technology is being taken up in Africa, it’s expected that by 2017 half the population will be technologically savvy.
Virtually every sector one can think of has a need for technology; the Agricultural sector has also caught on. There are agricultural mobile applications designed to aid farmers increase their yield and profits. Mfarm is one famous example in Kenya. The mobile application allows farmers to gain valuable insights about their crops, from market prices to spotting the symptoms of a diseased fruit. The application is making information more accessible to a larger group of farmers. In Rwanda e-soko is performing a similar function using a combination of different platforms including mobile apps as well as on the ground field services, to educate farmers about growing their businesses and to connect them with other businesses and NGOs. The dissemination of information via SMS is an affordable way to educate aspiring and established farmers who are looking to increase their agricultural yield.
In addition to bridging the knowledge gap, mobile technology is also allowing micro financing and micro insurance companies to target farmers who require their services in order to survive. Mobile money is a part of East Africa’s financial culture, with 61% of Kenyan mobile phone owners using their phones to send or receive money. Access to financing through mobile applications therefore has allowed small scale farmers to access sources of credit. Financial institutions such as AAR Credit offer thousands of dairy farmers in Kenya loans in order to keep afloat. The entire process is carried out through the use of mobile phone technology.
Through bold and innovative technology, Africa can strengthen its agricultural sector even further. Trading should not be limited to tangible goods, ideas and services such as mobile applications that seek to improve the lives of Africans should also be on the trade agenda.