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Mobile phone banking, the World Economic Forum and Vanity Fair's Africa splash

Jim Rosenberg's picture

What do Bill and Melinda Gates, Bono, Desmond Tutu, and a microfinance bank in Kenya have in common?  They're all part of the July issue of Vanity Fair, out this week and completely focused on Africa's development. 

The magazine would likely make good reading material between panel discussions in Capetown at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2007, slated to begin Wednesday.  Highlights include a televised debate on Africa's business environment (airing on CNBC, which just launched an Africa service), as well as a panel we at CGAP are quite excited about: The Bank in My Pocket: Banking the Un-banked with Mobile Phones.

Just one-fifth of households in sub-Saharan Africa have access to finance.  Most people turn to informal (and dangerous) ways to move cash around.  At the same time, mobile phone uptake is on the rise (new subscribers up 400 percent between 2000 and 2004).

In Capetown, Jennifer Isern of CGAP will moderate a discussion between mobile phone operators, banks and regulators.  Panelists include Susie Lonie of Vodafone, Lazarus Muchenje of Celpay, and George Partridge of the National Bank of Malawi.

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