Multi-modal phones revitalize markets in Senegal
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CTA. 2002. Multi-modal phones revitalize markets in Senegal. ICT Update Issue 9. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57511
by Daniel Annerose For almost a year now, Senegalese fruit and vegetable producers have been part of a revolution that has been brought about by Manobi, a mobile services operator and Internet specialist for the rural and agro-indus
The producers, most of whom are illiterate and have never used a phone, can master the technology within a few days, and are making full use of the service and the accurate price data it provides in their negotiations with the bana-banas, or middlemen. Previously, producers had little alternative but to rely on the word of the bana-banas who visited their farms to buy their produce. The prices they offered were usually unreliable, distorted in the bana-bana´s favour, and were a frequent source of disagreement. Producers who were able to go to the market to verify prices knew they were being cheated. Manobi has developed a system that collects data in real time and makes use of Internet and mobile technologies to follow the daily price fluctuations and deliveries of produce to markets. This information is transferred to and stored in a central database, analyzed and transmitted to users via a unique ´multi-modal´ data platform. The Manobi platform offers value-added services at lower cost than the standard first-generation voice networks of mobile phone operators. Manobi´s services are based on an integrated vision of a well-functioning agricultural supply network. The company processes and compiles market information that enables both the bana-banas and producers to target their markets and choice of products. Thus, for both parties, the dynamics of the market have been restored. The accurate information provided by Manobi is accepted as a point of reference that both parties can trust - a service that is not available elsewhere. As a result, the relations between the producers and bana-banas have improved. Their exchanges have become more productive, and both parties now consider themselves members of a community with the same interests. The producers´ net incomes, after deducting the service fee, have increased significantly, as have the earnings of the bana-banas, who are now better able to identify and take advantage of market opportunities. The markets are better supplied, and the producers have reduced the risks of losses or unsold produce. Manobi is now preparing to extend its system in partnership with Sonatel, the mobile phone operator in Senegal. Sonatel was impressed by the originality of Manobi´s services and the quality of its technological platform. Manobi has also formed partnerships with organizations representing producers and middlemen, who will play a key role in defining and selecting priority services that will be part of the system in the future. In order to put its technologies to full use, Manobi has built up a new cooperative framework between end users, operators and service providers, and is promoting innovative uses that will effectively contribute to the economic development of Senegal. Daniel Annerose is http://www.manobi.net Manobi´s executive-director.