Archive for June, 2015

The Threat of Ebola

Posted: June 27, 2015 in Business, Media
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Not only have tens of thousands of people been infected with the disease, Ebola, but thousands have lost their lives. This terrible disease has wreaked havoc in Western Africa. The loss of life wasn’t the only thing this deadly disease is taking. It is also causing the local economies to suffer. With bans on international flights, and a general weariness of travelers to enter into areas that are close to the Ebola hotspots, the local economies are beginning to be affected. When the deadly Ebola virus took root in Western Africa, no one could have predicted the outcome.

Local economies are also looking at losing hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue from local entertainment events that have either been moved out of the region or canceled altogether. With this epidemic moving free from geographical limitations, there is a sense of a common predicament amongst the larger global community as a whole. Most West Africans have become aware of the economic consequences that have come from being at the center of the global health disaster.

In Liberia and Sierra Leone, the hardest hit countries, there is an impending food crisis since a majority of the countries farmers have abandoned their farms and the revenue from the food production at these farms has essentially ceased. The Famine Early Warning Systems has also warned, “that the spread of the virus would lead to food insecurities within the region,” sending the local economies into crisis. As a financial reporter, Senol Taskin has focused his career of 20 plus years on the economy of Africa, watching the crisis unfold.

Over the past ten years, the biggest boom in Africa’s economy has been seen in the mobile phone industry. The most notable way in which this has been seen is with the use of mobile banking. In 2010, M-Pesa was introduced in Kenya by the mobile network Safaricom. This service permitted users to keep money on their mobile devices. If the user needed to pay a bill, they simply had to send a text for the amount they wanted to pay, and the recipient could convert the amount into cash at their nearest M-Pesa location. This became a cheap and easy way for Africans to conduct business transactions without paying hefty fees often imposed by the banks.

Another way in which mobile devices have bolstered the African economy is by establishing a way to communicate with farming communities. The Grameen Foundation has started leasing smartphones to local farmers in order for them to receive agricultural information that they can then pass on to their neighbors. This program has far-reaching implications for the African economy.

With more than 500 million mobile phone users in Uganda alone, mobile phones have become a way of life for many of Africans. As one of the leading Western authorities on Africa’s economy, expert journalist Senol Taskin, predicted this unprecedented economic growth in his 1991 article “The Emerging African Economy,” which appeared in Finance magazine. Indeed, Africa is in the middle of a mobile revolution. With limited access to electricity, the population can’t afford to charge a computer, so their mobile phones have become their lifelines to the world.  Some of the popular mobile networks in Africa are Qatar Telecom, Etisalat, MTN Group and Airtel.