Smartphones Creating Economic Stability for Kenya

Image: Dreamstime

Modern day technology in this 21st century has opened borders to areas once thought to be unattainable by people living in Third World countries. However it is becoming apparent that technology is helping places around the globe to stabilize their economic situation in a very positive direction. An example of one such country is Kenya, whose people are not only grasping technology, but are adapting it to areas that were thought to be one of the last places in need of digital devices. What are these life changing digital devices? The answer is the smartphone.

At first mention, one would think that a person using a smartphone in a Third World country is preposterous, and that assumption would have been true until now. Today it is becoming more common to be traveling along remote areas such as the Rift Valley province of Kenya, and discover a Massai warrior in his full native dress clutching a smartphone. Yes, one can now witness Massai warriors standing amongst their cattle talking to friends and checking their Facebook pages.

Even the women of Kenya are finding many vital applications for smartphones, and this is where the economy is starting to evolve into an extremely efficient system. When husbands, sons and other relatives travel hundreds of miles to work or sell livestock in villages and cities, families used to have to scrape out a living until their loved ones would return with money earned while they were away. Some forward thinking women would save money to weather these leaner times, yet they had to deal with the stress and situations brought on by the vulnerability of carrying money in economically depressed areas. However with the use of electronic money services such as a company called M-PESA, many have greatly reduce the risks of carrying too much money, by relying on it to be held in electronic accounts. They also do not have to wait as long to receive their much-needed money, where they can have access to it anywhere in the country. M-PESA has created economic stability to families because their money deposits are relatively safe and can be accessed through their mobile phones. Even when there is uncertainty brought on by government elections, M-PESA appears to be more stable then physical banks in Kenya, which means that this new money processing system is becoming a key factor to the countryโ€™s economic stability. Yet none of this could have been possible until mobile phone services had been established and now, with the introduction of the smartphone, the people of Kenya are even more empowered to protect their interests.


Although this embracing of todayโ€™s technologies has not gone without certain frustrations that would have never been experienced in the past. This was found to be the case when a cellular signal transmitter had been stolen from the tower in an area of Kenya where the understanding of how this type of technology works is still very new. The result was great frustration for the many who have become dependent on email, social media networks and even banking systems such as M-PESA. Although services were eventually restored within a couple of weeks, this was not without anguish experienced by the many who have become reliant on these technological services. Even with these technological bumps for Kenya, it is still clear that its people are adapting quite nicely to it and have begun to define new ways to use these tools to better their lives.

Technology or rather lack-there-of, has always been in discussion regarding the economic development of African countries, and one can only hope that technology will equate to more social and economical stability for the many nations of Africa. However until then, more remote regions of this fertile continent are eager to adapt to the technologies enjoyed by many in developed countries, and one would also surmise that Kenya will be one of the leading examples of Africa’s technological advancements.


  1. Great article Michelle.

  2. Terrific content – No idea there was service there for Smartphones! And, love that they use their phones for commerce. We could learn from them.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Isn’t it funny how people in Third World countries trust digital commerce more than those who in developed countries. Such a fascinating observation you made. Thank You Linda!

  3. Interesting & very informative! Who would have thought something we take for granted here has opened new horizons? I like the fact that you brought me a unique perspective on something that’s truly news, and added in the human aspect so I understand what this means to Kenya, its economy, and its women. Many more successes Michelle.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You Stephanie!
      It is the hope to strive to bring content that’s fresh and inspiring. I’m very interested in sharing content that brings people closer across continents.
      I hope to continue on this path. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Jennifer Whalley says

    Great article!
    Interesting and I enjoyed the video clip too!
    Looking forward to reading more.
    Best to you friend!

  5. Very interesting article! I had no idea that smart phones were being utilized to improve commerce in rural areas of Africa. I don’t even know how to do that on my phone..

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thanks Jasmine! I believe you fit in a large group of people in developed countries who either do not know, or do not trust digital commerce through their mobile phone devices. Yet the people of Kenya are embracing it and utilizing it well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Wanda Lopshire says

    As I sit here, having just finished paying bills online, it was with some amazement to read this article and see money being transferred via phone from family member to family member in Kenya. But I also felt a sense of relief for them to be able to conduct business in this manner and not have to worry about carrying cash, not having walk for miles and queue for hours, making deposits, getting checks and paying for school. Maybe, just maybe, when I am a little impatient with my slower 3G cell, I will think about what smartphones are doing in Kenya….

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Wanda, Thank you so much for your comment! I feel the same way! I think twice now, before I become impatient with my smartphone. It still amazes me how the Kenyans recognize these mobile devices as tools, where I often take it for granted as just a communication device that provides amusement.

  7. Great article Michelle. In a country so poor, this is a rich idea. The people of Kenya seem to embrace this idea with open arms. Keep up the great writing and keep bringing TRUE news to us.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank you so much Monica! I’ll be working hard to bring more content like this. There is a lot in this life that can keep us inspired. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. facebook_Monica_Myles.1720819531 says

    This is just so cool. Technology we so often take for granted has completely transformed their way of life. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Great article Michelle. For some reason my post went under Monica Myles’ name. Sorry Monica, I don’t know how that happened……
    Keep up the great work Michelle and thank you for bringing real and true news worth reading to us.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You so much Fawna! I’ll definitely work hard to continue bringing content like this. I don’t know what happened either to your previous post. Although in the digital age, we still have digital glitches. LoL

  10. Melissa Conn says

    Nice article! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for bridging the cultural/national/continental gap! What does M-PESA stand for?

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You Melissa! I am so excited you saw the bridge! M-PESA is an abbreviation for Mobile Money. “M” is for Mobile and “PESA” means “Money” in swahili.

  11. Stacy Miller says

    Wow great article Michelle!!! I love reading about things like this! Where there is need, there is ingenuity. Thank you for sharing! I should hope I’d never be too busy for worldly inspiration, even if I’m in Hawaii! Lol

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thanks Stacey! You’re so right about ingenuity and where there is a need. It is also nice to learn about how people use certain technologies as tools where in contrast to developed countries take them for granted.
      Much Aloha! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Cathy Fitzgerald says

    Great article, Michelle! You nailed it! You’ll get a chance to see it in person when you travel there next year. And you inspired me to look into getting a smart phone so I can keep up with my friends in Kenya.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thanks Cathy! I am so glad to hear that I nailed it! As you know Dr. Fitzgerald, Africa has its economic and social complications. One can only hope that technology will continue to assist its people like it appears to be doing for Kenya.

  13. Karyn Forsyth says

    Very interesting and informative article Michelle. This is a perfect forum for you to share your knowledge with others and to provide education on a variety of topics. I look forward to reading more of your writing in the future. And it’s wonderful to know that everything you write is thoroughly researched and truthful. Keep up the good work!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You So much Karyn! I do love to discover new things and issues I find fascinating. I’m glad you enjoy it too Doctor. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Mimi Shoop says

    So great to think of how innovative technology is helping those in underdeveloped countries to have a better life. I love the visual of Masai among their herds with their cell phones!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You so much Mimi! That visual of the Masai along the Masai Mara was actually the impetus for writing this article. I found it fascinating how technology has reached areas that are so remote and full of wonder.

  15. Great article about use of technology in an underdeveloped country. It’s refreshing to read “the news”.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You so much Barbara! I’m hoping to continue to contribute refreshing material. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Very informative. Thank you Michelle.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You Janet Sue! I’m so glad you found the content informative! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Loved it Michelle! Thanks for bringing this to light. I am extremely interested in how new technologies affect societies and cultures, and it’s a theme in my new book even! The smart phone is evolving so fast and in so many ways. And the tablet also… department stores are getting rid of registers and using Ipad-like devices that print receipts, and they are closing customer service departments. Contact will be via email or phone. And I’m fascinated that we’ve only had all of this technology and global social networking abilities a short time…less than 10 years…. but to hear about the positive effects this technology is having in such a short time is truly awesome and hopeful!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thanks Free! It is extremely fascinating about devices such as smartphones and electronic tablets. The latest trend is using iPads with the Square up device. That’s in my upcoming article. LoL
      Great minds think alike!
      Looking forward to the next book! Don’t let the publisher exhaust you too much. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Wanda Lopshire says

      Will it become where our receipt goes to our smartphone directly?

  18. Craig Questa says

    Congratulations on writing for Borderless News and Views and what a fascinating and positive first article. I want to read more.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You so much Craig! It is my hope to bring more content like this to the publication. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Michael Connors says

    Michelle, your article is terrific! It is wonderful to see that technology is making life easier for those in less developed nations. I wonder how it will impact the social norms of their culture.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank you Michael! That is a very good question. For one thing, more than ever Kenyans are checking and updating their Facebook status, and it is now very common for people to exchange information via FB. The long term impact is still to be seen, although I am a bit more concerned for them after I read a study in the US that reported more people developing narcissistic tendencies from their avid use of FB.

  20. Now if we can introduce them to the SquareUp technology, all will be right with the world. Good job, MQ!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      LoL Absolutely Peggy! although I believe they are actually ahead of developed countries in the sense that they are willing to use electronic money transactions as a form of money exchange, whereas in developed countries, many are reluctant to trust this form of currency transaction.
      Thank you so much for your insightful comment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Thank you for sharing this, Michelle. I had no idea smarthphones were being used like this and think it’s exciting to think about how technology can be used in so many ways to empower people.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You Shannon! Who knew that something that we consider to be a luxury, is a tool of empowerment for others. It is quite amazing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. After reading your article I had to forward it to my Father who was a Peace Corp volunteer in Kenya 12 years ago. Excellent article. Thank you.

  23. Michelle Quevedo says

    Thank You Billee! Yes, empowerment can come from a great many things, and it is often in areas where many take for granted. For myself, I never thought to think of my smartphone as a tool of empowerment, until now.

  24. Michelle Quevedo says

    Thanks for the Re-Tweet Jason!!!


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