GSMA Nairobi Office Opens New Window for Developers

GSMA managing director Chris Locke and director general Anne Bouverot during a meeting in Nairobi. It will jointly build infrastructure with telcos. Photo/Diana Ngila

A global association of mobile operators, GSMA, has opened a regional office in Nairobi to serve its members across Africa, becoming the latest IT organisation to pitch camp in the country.

Previously, GSMA served its members —  firms— from its headquarters in the UK.

It said the move to open the Africa office in Nairobi will enable it to work even more closely with members and other industry stakeholders to extend the reach and socio-economic benefits of mobile telephony throughout Africa.

The office will be based in the heart of Nairobi’s Innovation Hub (iHub), which also houses an army of tech innovators. The Nairobi office currently has six employees and is scouting for a regional director.

The association intends to work with the mobile operators jointly to build infrastructure that can trigger the software developers to build applications to be used in agriculture, health or education.

The association will also link the telecommunication operators to donors who can fund development and rollout of such scalable infrastructure.

“It is an exciting time to launch our new office in Africa, as the region is an increasingly vibrant and critical market for the mobile industry, representing over 10 per cent of the global market,” said Anne Bouverot, director general, GSMA.

The mobile industry contributes approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs in the region.

This has also spurred a wave of technology and content innovation, with more than 50 ‘innovation hubs’ created to develop local skills and content in the field of ICT services.

Of particular note is the role of Kenya as the global leader in mobile money transfer services via M-Pesa. Since its launch, M-Pesa has grown to reach 15 million registered users and contributes 18 per cent of Safaricom’s total revenue.

“The rapid pace of mobile adoption has delivered an explosion of innovation and huge economic benefits in the region, directly contributing $ 32 billion to the sub-Saharan African economy, or 4.4 per cent of GDP… the mobile industry could also fuel the creation of 14.9 million new jobs in the region between 2015 and 2020,” Ms Bouverot said.