Beyond Borders: Breaching Impenetrable Frontiers With Technology

Mo_IbrahimThe Spring 2013 issue of the World Policy Journal is out. It focuses on “Beyong Boders” issues, while portraying brave individuals and new technologies that are breaching once impenetrable frontiers.

Mo Ibrahim, the African billionaire, founder of Celtel, is featured as once of the movers and shakers. It’s a very enlightening interview.

(Note: I do not agree with the obscure agenda behind most the world prominent think thanks like World Policy or Foreign Policy. However, like Abraham Lincoln put it “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”)

Below are my favorite excerpt from Mo interview:

“The total number of phones in Africa was maybe two or three million fixed-line phones. And this was mainly in South Africa in the south or in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco in the north, and nothing in between. Right now, Africa has more than 550 million mobile subscribers. This is more than the number of mobile phones in Europe, by the way. This brought farmers to the market place. It brought new services. Banking now in Africa is done more with mobiles than in actual physical branches of banks. All kinds of services are available cheap like mobile banking services, which are more used there than in Europe or the United States.”

“Once people find an application or a tool that really meets one of their basic needs, they take to it like there’s no tomorrow. I will give you an example. I was the technical director of a British telecommunication company. We introduced mobile phones to the UK in 1985. When our marketing and business people were calculating what sort of customers we might have, they were totally wrong. We thought our first adopters were going to be business people, executives, bankers, but actually, the most significant first set of users were plumbers—handymen walking around, taking orders, going from house to house. These were the first adopters, because it was essential for their work. They were able to finish a job and move straight to another job. They could take orders and inform customers when they would be coming. Finally they had found a tool, which they always needed but were never able to articulate what exactly it was. What actually happened was, this fulfilled a need. If you offer a product or a tool which people really need, it changes, it increases efficiency, solves a major social problem for them. They adopt it in no time.”

You read the full interview here:

World-policy-beyond-borders-cover spring 13


About Mawuna KOUTONIN

Mawuna Koutonin is a world peace activist who relentlessly works to empower people to express their full potential and pursue their dreams, regardless of their background. He is the Editior of, Founder of, and Social activist for Africa Renaissance. Koutonin’s ultimate dream is to open a world-class human potential development school in Africa in 2017. If you are interested in learning more about this venture or Koutonin’s other projects, you can reach him directly by emailing at

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