For decades Africa was regarded as a continent dependent on western aid. However, a different picture has started to emerge. The continent is changing. Today Africa is generating innovations that are relevant to international markets. The introduction of a mobile payment system from Kenya, M-Pesa, in Romania clearly illustrates this paradigm shift. Both mobile services as a basic infrastructure and the continuous increase of fast and powerful Internet access capabilities have played an important part in this. In 2012 Africa’s annual economic output rose by 4.7 percent – constant economic growth and increasing investments are anticipated in coming years.
Beyond the economic success stories, an aspirational technology scene has grown up on the continent. Kenya’s capital Nairobi, the birthplace of M-Pesa, has established itself as the “tech centre” in Africa within seven years. The rise of M-Pesa is impressive: in 2007 the local mobile services provider Safaricom in partnership with its shareholder Vodafone launched a mobile-based money-transfer service as a non-profit project. Just six years later a third of Kenyans (17 million people) were using their mobile phone to transfer or save money.