Powered by Innovation: Highlights of Africa's Emerging Markets

Africa is showing a strong growth in productivity with the development of mobile capabilities by BotswanaPost in Botswana, accessible electricity in Kenya, and promising results for Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana amongst other micro-enterprises in emerging markets seeking to compete for profit shares.

The BotswanaPost released a mobile application for electricity bill payments. The BotswanaPost is one of the oldest public services in Botswana and is owned by the Government of Botswana. The inaugural launch of the mobile app will enable users to purchase prepaid electricity from their smartphones. The BotswanaPost app is currently only compatible with Android 3.0 and up. The app is free and available for download via Google Play.

It is yet another proud moment for BostwanaPost as we continue to make life even easier for our customers. - Lebogang Bok, Head of Strategy and Communications at BotswanaPost

The BotswanaPost is also looking at leveraging information and communication technologies (ICT) to stimulate communication in the more rural areas of Botswana. Further development on additional capabilities into the app, like parcel mail and money transfer—which are primarily driven by electricity—are planned in the near future.

Another online payment option is PosoOnline, which is a free online service provided by the BotswanaPost and is available 24/7.

The system electronically controls all referencing, ensuring that your payment is correctly allocated. There is no manual input which prevents human errors in capturing references. This also ensures that you receive proof of payment and continuous statement & payment history. Integrated management tools allow for both you and the biller to view the same information for speedier resolution. Human error and payment delays are two of the most common reasons for erroneous termination of services—PosoOnline removes these risks.

Below are some notable PosoOnline Services Benefits. Additional service info is available here.

- Convenience (24x7x365), no need to visit your customer care center for a new/duplicate account

- Faster, as you will receive your bill two weeks earlier than at present

- Full history of accounts, payments & electronic correspondence online

- Reliable, guaranteed delivery with confirmation for each communication & payment

- Increased security (no lost payments or accounts)

- Minimized risk of late payment actions as they are automatically tracked and reconciled with your biller

- Email notification and reminder services for new accounts, payments due, etc.

- Completely free

Investing in long-term energy sustainability is a powerful concept that Kenya is implementing. Transforming poor slums into illuminating cities isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, but the gains are providing upward economic mobility. Kenya Power, the national utility provider is bringing electricity to some of the most poverty-stricken parts of Nairobi.

Many people live in a community with informal living spaces with insufficient distribution and access to electricity; these neighborhoods are stricken with energy poverty. Lack of electricity has spiraling effects in these informal settlements. Draining the neighborhood of safe and legal access to power has led to the eruption of a market of cartels illegally reselling electricity at inflated prices. Businesses, schools and hospitals are powerless when the sun goes down.

Kenya Power and Lighting Corporation (KPIC) needed to shed light on the problem and reconnect with these neighborhoods dealing with energy poverty. The Electrification Project has successfully empowered these informal communities with safe, affordable, legal and safe electricity. The project is facilitated by Kenya Power and a supported by allocated funds from the World Bank and two of its trust funds.

In a featured story titled Bringing Electricity to Kenya’s Slums: Hard Lessons Lead to Great Gains (dated August 20, 2015) according to The World Bank, from 2011 through 2013, Kenya Power focused on taking down the illegal power connections, only to find them up again just a few days later. Many of their legal customers were, in fact, selling the power to others.

For two years, we struggled, said Harun Mwangi, a former senior Kenya Power official and the leader of the program at the time. We realized we needed to find another way.

As of May 2014, the team had still only established 5,000 new legal connections. One year later, in May 2015, that number was at 150,000 and counting.

A report released that released on Thursday (August 27th, 2015) titled Business Practices in Small Firms in Developing Countries, compared the effect of management versus implementing better business practices in microenterprises. Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana were three of the six emerging markets surveyed. The study focused on 26 questions measuring the following business practices: marketing, stock-keeping, record-keeping and financial planning.

Result variations from the study of human capital, family history of entrepreneurship, product market competition and firm size had interesting conclusions that provide support for the idea that parents who are business owners transmit human capital relevant to running a business to their children.


The sample consists of applicants to a nationwide business plan competition, described in McKenzie (2014). The first round data consists of 1725 individuals surveyed between November 2012 and April 2013 who were operating businesses at that time. The sample consists of applicants who had been selected for a business plan-training workshop or had scores close to the threshold for being selected. A second follow-up survey was conducted between October 2013 and February 2014, allowing measurement of survival over a one-year horizon, and of the stability of business practices. The business practice questions asked did not include F5-F8 (financial statements).


The sample comes from an ongoing evaluation of a business training program for women in four counties of Kenya: Kakamega and Kisii in the Western region, and Embu and Kitui in the Eastern region. In each county, a census of market centers was taken, and then a screening was done to select a sample in which the business did not have more than three employees; the business had profits in the past week between 0 and 4000 Kenyan shillings (KSH) (one US dollar averaged approximately 85 KSH over the survey period); sales in the past week less than or equal to 50,000 KSH; and the individual had at least one year of schooling (Diwan et al, 2014). The survey is, therefore, representative of microenterprises of this size run by women in these four counties. The baseline survey took place between June and November 2013, and consisted of 3,537 individuals. The survey is missing responses on business practices F5-F8 (financial statements) in the baseline, because the question only allowed for one response, rather than a yes/no for each type of financial statement (70.2% report not having any accounting statement prepared). A follow-up survey was conducted one year later, with survival data collected for 3,446 individuals and follow-up business practices data for 2,860 individuals.


The sample consists of 335 applicants to a business plan competition in Accra and Kumasi, described in Fafchamps and Woodruff (2014). Baseline data were collected in 2010, and then two rounds of follow-up surveys were collected in July-August 2011, and August-September 2012, approximately one and two years after the baseline. 257 individuals were surveyed in the first follow-up and 279 in the second follow-up. The survey did not collect detailed survival data, and so we only use the time dimension of this data for examining the persistence of business practices over time.

Click to view the official report by McKenzie, David J.; Woodruff, Christopher M., 2015. Business practices in small firms in developing countries. Policy Research working paper; no. WPS 7405; Paper is funded by the Knowledge for Change Program (KCP). Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group.