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African Travel Industry Leads the World in Mobile Commerce

Africa is leading the world in mobile commerce with the travel industry at the forefront of the movement, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report released today (Monday 7 November) at World Travel Market.

The report, in association with Euromonitor International, reveals Africa is leading the world in mobile commerce.  This is due to the mobile boom in Africa with 489 million mobile phone users, with 60% using their phones to purchase goods.

African telecoms companies are working with the continent’s major airlines,  including Kenya Airways to target the 230 million “unbanked” population. The M-PESA payment system, which launched in 2007 by Safaricom, an affiliate of Vodaphone, is now an established way for Africans without bank accounts to buy goods and services – including travel - using their mobile.

In 2010, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines joined M-PESA and Airtel Money to enable consumers without a bank account to buy air tickets.

The mobile payment systemis also expanding into accommodation with Savora Hotels, one of the region’s leading lodge, camp and safari operators, integrating M-PESA into its global m-commerce strategy.


Furthermore, the WTM Global Trends Report highlights other initiatives from travel providers in the m-commerce space., a Nigerian OTA, launched Africa’s first mobile travel app in 2011 including searches for flights, hotels and car rental.

The South Africa Tourism Board launched a dedicated mobile site to offer deals to visitors from neighbouring countries including Angola, DR Congo and Mozambique.

Social media giant Facebook now operates mobile sites in the major African languages including Swahili, Hausa and isiZulu.
Reed Travel Exhibitions Chairman World Travel Market Fiona Jeffery said: “The continent of Africa has great potential for the global travel and tourism industry. With blue-chip corporations such as IBM and Vodafone involved in building a mobile commerce network, regional and global travel companies should be looking even more closely on what the region has to offer.”

“Mobile payments systems are commercially and economically important for all sectors operating in the region, with travel and tourism ideally placed to take advantage.”

Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel and Tourism Research at Euromonitor International said: “Africa has leap-frogged the rest of the world in terms of mobile commerce, with mobile technology offering great opportunities for travel companies looking to explore this vast and untapped market in the region.”

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