Ahead of the mobile applications expo coming up next week at the University of Lagos, we interview Emmanuel Okoegwale, the gentleman behind the event.
1. Can you please tell us about MobiFest?
MobiFEST is Nigeria’s first mobile apps, contents and devices conference and exhibition. It will hold at the Heart of the Nigerian Youth Market in the Yaba axis of Lagos, targeting students from five higher institutions. MobiFEST was conceived to accelerate mobile apps development focusing on areas of strong compelling need across all areas of human endeavors in Nigeria.
2. What do you hope to achieve with the exhibition?
With the high rate of adoption of the mobile technology in Nigeria with more than 70 million subscription, it is natural for us at mobilemoneyafrica to explore the opportunities that the mobile present s in a Nation of less than 20million internet connections .Mobile phones are easy to use and available across class structures and educational status.
It is our sincere belief that many developmental challenges facing Nigeria can be managed using the mobile phone and allied applications.
3. Do you think there is significant opportunity in the mobile apps development space for African tech entrepreneurs?
We have see what simple SMS has been used for Kenya’s MPESA which is the world’s most referenced mobile payment platform, accounting for 15 per cent of the GDP flow, 50 percent of all domestic remittances with more than 16,000 agents and serving more than 12 million subscribers all within four years of launch. Same can be duplicated all across Africa and domesticated to address specific local needs.
Simple SMS solutions is actively used in areas of Health, microfinance, Banking, governance and many other areas across Africa. Innovations can only be limited by imagination in this space and this is what we want to address at mobiFEST.
4. How big do you think this opportunity is?
Earlier I mentioned MPESA in Kenya but that is about one of the instances where such successes has been measurable in terms of contributions to National economy, employment opportunities and even profitability. We don’t know what is out there because we can’t even measure it yet.
However, with the rate of adoption of mobile technology, new exciting apps, smart devices evolving all across Africa, there is millions of dollars untapped opportunity out there but the question is How big is this opportunity like You rightly asked. I don’t know it yet but we hope to bring all these issues to front line agenda in near future and we hope to commission research and survey to determine the market opportunities and size.
5. Do you think there is room for Nigerian mobile app developers to use mobile apps as a means of solving the nation’s development problems?
Nigerians are very smart people but abilities are limited where there are no opportunities. My expectation is that the mobile network operators or device manufacturers active in the mobile landscape in Nigeria and Africa would have since considered setting up an innovation lab in Nigeria where Young mobiprenuers can try out their stuffs. It may be housed in any University in Nigeria to create a hub for the developers in a focused community setting.
6. Where do you see Nigeria’s mobile apps development space in the next few years?
If we can get the right support to leap frog this industry, the potentials are there and hopefully, Nigeria can create a vibrant content and apps market for the new smart devices like the Blackberry, iPhone, Androids, Nokia and Samsungs of the world.
If we get it right with government and private sector support, the future will be bright and rewarding however if no action is taken, five years from now, we will still be faced with consuming foreign mobile apps and contents that does not have any strong compelling need for us as Africans and does not address any of our developmental needs.
7. What is the major challenge for Nigerian mobile app developers? How does mobiFest hope to address this problem?
We need to create an opportunity to network, get these guys together and identify the challenges with a view to addressing the short term challenges and proffering local solutions to such challenges. For this reasons, we are bringing some Nigerians that had excelled in mobile apps industry to share their experiences with the emerging ones with a view to learning a few tricks from them.
8. To our readers who might be thinking of attending, why in your opinion do you think they should attend?
It is an opportunity to test new exciting mobile apps in the Nigerian market and developed by Nigerians at the exhibition halls which will run alongside the conference at the University of Lagos. Some of these Nigerian firms will be showing their latest apps. Nokia and Samsung will be there as well, while MMIT led by Jide Akindele will demo the innovative mobile payment apps that was developed locally in Nigeria. Kofi Oroh from Mobitronics be will be sharing His news apps for delegates at the event. Mobile CV and many others will be presenting and exhibiting at this event.These are just some of the many innovators that will be showcasing their innovations at the event.
The event which is divided into device hub, innovation, developers and mobile money hub will also host a SIM card registration center.
About Emmanuel Okoegwale
Emmanuel Okoegwale is a mobile VAS specialist with specialization in mobile financial services. He is a Director at the African center for mobile financial inclusion, Acmfi in UK and serves on the board of the world first open source mobile micro finance platform in the US, FrontlineSMS Credit.
He is the founder of Africa’s leading resource for mobile financial inclusion, MobileMoneyAfrica and very active in the shaping regulations in the mobile financial landscape in Africa.He is a well known circuit speaker and workshop facilitator in Africa and UAE. He will be speaking at comworld series in Nigeria, Sept 2010.