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Mobile Africa is a film project documenting the extraordinary rise of mobile technology across Africa and its impact on the continent's new generation of tech entrepreneurs.
This documentary will explore how mobile phones are lifting millions out of poverty, increasing access to information on a vast scale, and supercharging entrepreneurship across the continent. Mobile Africa will also spotlight African innovators and how they are using mobile technology to not only tackle local challenges, but create solutions with the potential for global impact.
African innovation has not received the global recognition it deserves. The continent is teeming with entrepreneurs and innovators developing new products, apps, and technology solutions that aim to improve lives both at home and abroad. Africa’s new generation of tech innovators have been empowered by the rapid ascent of the humble mobile phone. Our film tells the story of entrepreneurs across the continent and how their use of mobile technology is having a transformational impact on Africans’ daily lives. Supporting this project will shine a light on African innovation and advocate for increased investment in the continent’s technology sector.
Mobile Africa charts the rise of mobile technology from South Africa’s first cellular broadcasting license in 1994, to Kenya’s pioneering money transfer system M-PESA, and more recent innovations that extend internet access to remote populations. We speak with Africa’s new generation of mobile tech entrepreneurs and look at the impact they are having on society, as well as the challenges they still face.
This film profiles entrepreneurs in health, finance, insurance, education, agriculture, and entertainment. Their innovations have provided people with up-to-date healthcare information, solar lighting in rural areas, livestock and agriculture advice, access to digital books, and insurance coverage for the most vulnerable citizens. These innovators have filled in the gaps left by slow and inefficient bureaucracies and are working hard to shape the future of Africa.
The extraordinary success of mobile technology in Africa came as a shock to many. In the early-1990s, Africa appeared to be an unlikely destination for mobile phone subscriptions. The continent was viewed as high risk, with questionable rewards. In 2000, around 1% of homes across Sub-Saharan Africa were connected by landlines, while today there are nearly 557 million unique mobile subscribers. How did Africa leapfrog almost a hundred of years of telephony development and infrastructure? And what does this technology mean for everyday Africans?
Mobile technology has had a profound impact on all segments of African society, but people living at the bottom of the pyramid have the most to gain from access to information. Mobile Africa highlights everyday people whose jobs are made possible by the mobile economy and small business owners whose livelihoods have been transformed through mobile connectivity. It includes perspectives from academics who place the societal impact of mobile phones into context, and government regulators who discuss their plans for encouraging future innovations within their respective countries.
Yet every light casts a shadow. For all the success of mobile technology, drawbacks and unintended consequences exist. Increased connectivity creates the potential for abuse, especially among governments with authoritarian tendencies. Fake news shared online isn’t just a problem facing the West, but has the potential to strain already fraught elections across the continent and spread dubious health information. There is also concern that mobile technology is increasing inequality between the connected and those who lack access to information.
Challenges remain, but the story of mobile technology in Africa is an overwhelmingly positive tale that we're excited to tell with your help. Please support Mobile Africa and put a spotlight on African innovation.
We've conducted in-depth interviews with dozens of the leading startups across Africa as well as VCs, incubators, accelerators and policy experts in order to capture the most comprehensive portrait of tech entrepreneurship in Sub-saharan Africa today. Below are some of the leaders we've spoken with already:
Su Kahumba (Founder, iCow)
Mark Kamau (Director of User Experience, BRCK)
Peter Kariuki and Barrett Nash (Co-Founders, SafeMotos)
Kaakpema “KP” Yelpaala (Founder, Access.Mobile)
Peter Gross (Director, MicroEnsure Labs)
Aisha Pandor (Co-Founder, SweepSouth)
Paul Mugambi (Co-Founder, Kytabu)
Chad Larson (Co-Founder, M-KOPA Solar)
Roy Wachira (CEO, The Foundry)
Nnamdi Oranye (Author, Disrupting Africa; Taking on Silicon Valley)
Mark Kaigwa (CEO, Nendo)
Nyasinga Onyancha (Co-Founder, SimbaPay)
Rosemary Olale (Director, Tuinuke Arise & Prosper)
Abiola Olaniran (Founder, Gamsole)
Folabi Esan (Partner, Adlevo Capital)
Dr. William Mapham (Founder, Vula Mobile)
Lelemba Phiri (Chief Marketing Officer, Zoona)
Kitso Lemo (McKinsey, South Africa)
Dr. Mundia Kabinga (University of Cape Town, School of Business)
Dare Okoudjou (Founder, MFS Africa)
Fiyinfolu Oladiran (McKinsey, Nigeria)
Professor Mthuli Ncube (Oxford University; VP, Africa Development Bank)
Temitope “Tope” Lucas (Legal and Content Acquisition, iRokoTV)
Olakunle Ogungbamila (Product Manager, iRokoTV)
Chinedum Chijioke (Managing Director, Africa, Sproxil)
Eghosa Omoigui (Partner, EchoVC)
Bernard Chiira (iBiz)
Emmanuel Kweyu (iLab)
Zubair Abubakar (Co-Founder, ChopUp)
Bayo Puddicombe (Co-Founder, ChopUp)
Linda Kwamboka (Founder, M-Farm)
Goodie Odhiambo (Goodie Crafts / Co-Chair, Women in Tech, Nairobi)
Dr. Brian DeRenzi (Senior Lecturer, University of Cape Town)
Robert Guest (Foreign Editor, The Economist)
We've put together a number of rewards that reflect both the project theme as well as the artists and innovators we met while filming. In collaboration with local artisans in Nairobi, we're offering a number of handmade rewards designed specially for this campaign. (Learn more about some of the craftspeople and their inspiring stories at www.tuinuke.org). We're also providing our partner, Nnamdi Oranye's, book Disrupting Africa, which provides an insightful look inside the fast-evolving African tech ecosystem.
Our initial filming concluded on schedule and we're aiming for a spring release of the short documentary if we reach our Kickstarter goal of $10K. If we're able to achieve our extended goals we will conduct additional filming in 2018 with a feature-length film release towards the end of the year. Upon reaching extended goals, all backers will receive regular updates and access to the feature-length film as well as other resources as we compile them.
We're currently focused on completing a short documentary, yet there is more story to tell. If we're able to raise additional funds of $20-$25K we will increase the length and scope of Mobile Africa with additional interviews, West and Central African perspectives, and a professional soundtrack and color mastering.
We're eager to tell the story of mobile technology in Africa, but even more excited to feature many of the incredible innovators and entrepreneurs we've met throughout Africa. If you would like to participate as a startup, VC, or other entrepreneur-related organization in Africa, please reach out to us to discuss the possibility of an interview: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, please support our Kickstarter campaign. Spread the word, email your friends, post to Facebook, Tweet it, Instagram it, SnapChat it and help us spread the word about this film and the exciting startups and entrepreneurs featured in it.
Thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
Principal shooting is complete. Assuming we don't lose our computers and backup hard drives our main challenge is editing and post-production. If we reach our goal we can complete a few remaining interviews, work with a professional editor, and stay on schedule for an early 2018 release. If we reach our extended goals we'll have the resources to expand the documentary and take this project to the next level. Whether short film or feature-length, we're excited to move forward together and highlight the incredible work being done in tech across the continent.
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