Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Made in Africa

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Monitise to Africa. On face value, the recent announcement regarding a their collaboration with "Made in Africa" seems to be a great deal. As a listed company, it is important to announce this transaction as well as the commercial terms associated with the deal. (Read the press release on their website).

As an African myself, I was intrigued about many things related to the announcement. If I were an investor in this publicly traded company (which I am not), these are the questions that I would have had. In the interest of debate, I thought that I should publish the questions:
  • Who is "Made in Africa"? A quick search for Made in Africa on Google returns film-makers, cotton and aloe-distributors. I am sure these are not the Made in Africa that we are talking about. Maybe it is a company established with a specific aim and have not been around for a long time?
  • Who is the guys behind "Made in Africa" and what is their credentials? We all know and respect Ozwald Boateng, who is one of Africa's best-known clothes designers and living in London, but who is Chris Cleverly and Prince Hassan Kimbugwe (who is the other two backers of "Made in Africa"). Chris (according to his profile on LinkedIn) has been quite busy in Uganda, starting and selling bio-fuel companies... bio fuel companies?
  • From a technology perspective, how will Monitise deploy their secure Java-based solutions in Africa, when relatively small percentage of handsets support Java and few subscribers have data-contracts?
  • In most of the target countries very few people have bank-relationships. How will Monitise adapt their ATM-based (register-your-card-to-get-access-to-mobile-banking) solution paradigm?
I have worked in the countries mentioned in the press release and we have made very successful mobile banking deployments there. We have also experienced the challenges and understand the realities of these countries well. I welcome my UK friends to Africa and wish them well - it is going to be an interesting ride.

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