Rwandan entrepreneurs MPESA’s new rival featured on Innovate Africa on Al Jazeera

In this week’s episode of Innovate Africa, co-host Tapfuma Makina visits Nairobi to meet Kariuki Gathitu, founder of Zege Technologies. Zege has launched MPayer, a mobile payment alternative to MPESA, aimed at small businesses.

“In Kenya, 11-and-a-half million people use simple cellphones to pay their bills,“ says Tapfuma. “That’s more than double the number that have bank accounts… It all began when Kenyans who had no bank accounts began to trade their airtime to pay for services. This system was so successful that it was fine-tuned and called MPESA, the Swahili word for money. It is now the most widely used form of payment cross the African continent… But while MPESA works well for individual cash payments, it’s not designed to facilitate a business. But now there is MPayer, a new mobile innovation designed specifically for small businesses in Kenya.”

Co-host Ndoni Khanyile visits Rwanda to interview Henri Nyakarundi, an entrepreneur who has designed and franchised solar-powered mobile phone charging kiosks.

“The lack of electricity was a big problem in the region,” says the Ared founder. “60% of the population has a cellphone but less than 15% has access to electricity.

The kiosks are small enough to be towed by a bicycle to wherever people will pay a small fee to charge their phones. The kiosks can charge up to 30 phones at a time and Henri now has 24 franchisees operating across Rwanda.

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