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Friday, Apr 27th

‘Mobile phones are changing Africa’s supply chain dynamics’

‘Mobile phones are changing Africa’s supply chain dynamics.’

Mobile phone technology is changing the dynamics of Africa’s supply chain, according to experts speaking at a media roundtable during the SYSPRO Africa 2013 conference in Sandton, Johannesburg on Monday.

Meryl Malcomess, marketing director at enterprise resource planning (ERP) software firm SYSPRO, said the rise of mobile phone adoption in Africa is putting the power of the supply chain into the hands of those who have traditionally never had access to it.

Mobile subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa stand at 560 million, according to research by Ericsson.

And with this in mind, Malcomess pointed to an example of how a female farmer for East Africa’s largest dairy, Brookside in Kenya, is able to use mobile phone technology such as M-Pesa to receive payments, insure cattle and even pay school fees for her children.

This in turn is transforming a simple supply chain into a more complex one, explained Malcomess.

“We are trying to make ERP understandable in an everyday way, in a practical way, particularly in the rural areas where at least 500 million people now have cellphones or some kind of mobile phone, which immediately starts to close the gap on what you can do,” said Malcomess.

“And I believe that growth is going to be enormous,” said Malcomess.

SYSPRO is in a bid to target this kind of market as this year it has launched its SYSPRO 7 software, which includes a renewed focus on mobile.

SYSPRO 7 includes what is dubbed ‘Espresso’, a mobile solution that allows for personalisation and customisation of the ERP software for the most popular mobile devices.

Meanwhile, Mark Walker -- who is the director of insights and vertical industries for IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey -- also commented on the impact that the likes of mobile technology is having on the continent’s supply chain.

“With the advent of technology, social technology, of cloud, of big data for instance, with the advent of the availability of communication networks, that has changed so radically in the last two to three years that the lady that you mentioned from that dairy is now part of that supply chain,” said Walker.

“And again that introduces additional complexity, because now many more suppliers, smaller volumes across a greater geography.

“The only that that complexity can be effectively managed is through some kind of software solution,” Walker added.

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