Mobile, the Hammer looking for Nails

We all know the saying, when you have only a hammer, then everything looks like a nail…

Well I don’t know if it is only me, but between a Mobile Device and the Internet everything to me starts looking like a nail, and some of these nails are actually huge as a problem, thus an opportunity, that Mobile can actually so easily solve, if only the drive and passion is there to actually do it, let’s take some examples that have been mulling around in my mind for a while.

The World population median average age is currently at about 30 years, and in Sub Saharan Africa it is much lower, at about 19 years (exact decimals not important here), and education for these youngsters are vital for the future growth of our Continent.

I tried to do research on the number of Universities and Schools we would require to educate our growing population, but could not find absolutely reliable data, but I can for sure tell you this, we just do not have enough Schools and Universities, and besides the actual number of institutions our youngsters can just not afford the high investments required, despite their parents working their hands and knees to the bone to try and offer their children, and our future, a better education.

So if we cannot get more institutions available for students to go to, then why are we taking so long to bring institutions, and the resulting education to these youngsters, why do we not use technology, such as Mobile, and developing technologies such as AI, Chatbots, Streaming, YouTube, Broadcasts etc to have our youth achieve education via Mobile, some innovators are already trying to make this a reality, but we need more.

I can perfectly imagine a single highly qualified and trained teacher, whether pre-recorded or live, provide classes to hundreds of thousands students online via mobile, with interactive chat between students, live questions and answers, reference to additional learning materials etc being provided, with students only having to go and write exams at predefined venues across the country, at time intervals that is not linked to our current calendars, but at many more time slots depending on the student readiness to complete the specific exam, no need to go to any university/school physically, similarly we can take unused government and public buildings and convert these to e-centres for those wanting to take class in a physical surrounding, with the same methodology as per the mobile learning taking place in these venues.

Is the above just a nail that i see that mobile/internet/technology can solve, or is there a case to be made here…

Today I also saw that the World Food Program launched a mobile cash transfer system for humanitarian assistance in Myanmar, with families in different camps of displaced families, receiving an electronic credit allocation for such assistance via their mobile, I saw this type of program before and always thought it could be expanded, in this case it was Myanmar, but it could be used for challenges we have right now across the Continent.

Many governments needs to disburse funds to either government employees, social programs such as grants or pensions or even to military personnel that is spread across various and often widespread geographical areas, and some institutions and governments started using mobile as a distribution channel, that is why I cannot understand that we expand this program to all countries across the Continent.

I read with interest (best word I can find) the absolute disaster being faced in South Africa currently in terms of payment of social grants and pensions to beneficiaries, and the ugly and sometimes also embarrassing court cases and public statements that go along with these type of challenges, but more so I also watched anxious pensioners worrying if they would be receiving their small but vital payments this month.

Witnessing the above I think to myself why are we still trying to disburse funds the old traditional ways, and why do I see statements that cash would have to be transported across the country, and why do pensioners still have to go stand in long queues to get their funds, when it can be simply be transferred to their mobile, whether they have a mobile money account or not, there are so many variables that this form of disbursement can take, all of which would be a world apart (for the positive) from the current system, and it would cost the government much less than the exorbitant fees they are currently paying, as well as the improvement of governance, audit trails and elimination/reduction of fraud, to mention but a few.

Is the above just a nail that i see that mobile/internet/technology can solve, or is there a case to be made here…

Most countries are looking at solutions to provide their citizens with some form of an ID, which will not just ease administration to government and other service providers, but provides a person with some sort of a place in the world, a sort of a reference point to the “who am I, what can I achieve” that each of us require in our lives, and millions are spend, and sometimes nothing is being spent on solving this challenge, this whilst the device that is in most of our hands can significantly assist in providing solutions to this challenge, right from a birth certificate, registration on the national population register to an electronic and physical ID card, this sort of programs exist in small pockets and is widely published as solvable by the GSM Association, but yet we continue to ignore the solution in front of us, why i do not know, but it is terrible that most of our people are still nobody, it is fact heart breaking.

Is the above just a nail that i see that mobile/internet/technology can solve, or is there a case to be made here…

Then together with being somebody, the question also arise of where are you from, and yet again a very large portion of our people across the Continent do not have an address, thus they can never have some sort of reference point of a place to pinpoint, should they ever need it, even if it is for a relative or friend to visit at some point in the future, imagine if they want to become part of the financial system, or even want to register their SIM Card as is required by most countries today.

In steps innovations such as “what3words, a solution what3words is a global addressing system. what3words divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique 3 word address, that provides a precise and incredibly simple way to talk about location, and it means everyone and everywhere now can have an address, and this yet again can so easily be facilitated using mobile technology, and the power to change someones live, in fact more than 4 billion people globally needs an address, is absolutely unmeasurable.

Is the above just a nail that i see that mobile/internet/technology can solve, or is there a case to be made here…

I know that there are many more nails out there, it is time that we take our hammers and make work of these and other challenges…

What nail do you see, and do pass me your Hammer please…

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