Digital for development

Digital for Development

Altai Consulting leverages a unique expertise at the crossroads of the digital economy and the development sector. We support a wide array of actors, including digital players, mobile network operators, investors, enablers, incubators, start-ups and development organisations, and help them create opportunities in the digital economy for emerging countries and their populations at large.

In the past five years, in parallel to our engagements in Digital Finance our teams have delivered over thirty projects covering numerous aspects of Digital for Development and its subsectors mAgri, mHealth, mUtilities, etc. in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Recent projects

Formulation of an mAgri Strategy for a global telecom operator in Africa

Altai Consulting has been mandated by a global telecom operator to formulate an improved mAgri strategy in Africa. According to the GSMA, more than 130 mAgri services have been launched in the developing world, but few of them have managed to reach critical size and to gain potential. In this context, the objective of the project was threefold: i) define KPIs for mAgri services (identify priority areas for the operator including which direct and which indirect benefits to pursue), ii) conduct an evaluation of all the services launched so far by the operator, iii) formulate a short term and a mid-term strategy to improve the services and iv) (re-)formulate an overall mAgri strategy for the operator.

Evaluation and recommendations for an improved business model for ACRE, a mobile-based Insurance Program for smallholders in Kenya supported by IFC and GSMA mAgri in partnership with Safaricom

Altai Consulting has been mandated to support ACRE’s replanting guarantee, an insurance for farmers buying SeedCo maize seeds in case of limited precipitations in Kenya. The service leverages smart technology to offer insurance to farmers who could not be reached with a traditional model. It uses the location data provided by mobile operator partners to determine the area in which the farmers live and satellite data provided by Columbia University to assess the level of precipitations. However, while the service is free at this stage, the premium being paid by SeedCo (the seeds provider) and the IFC, registration remains very low. Altai’s involvement consisted in data analytics to assess the bottlenecks in the current consumer journey and review the business model to ensure that incentives for all partners are well aligned. The outcome of the project is a comprehensive list of recommendations to raise awareness and improve the level of service while building a more sustainable business model as ACRE is about to expand to other countries.

Feasibility study for a mHub project in Afghanistan for the World Bank / InfoDev

Altai Consulting has conducted a feasibility study for the World Bank / InfoDev with a view to foster the development of a mobile applications sector in Afghanistan. The assignment included a full review of the sector ecosystem and an assessment of the potential and needs of the main actors, with a deep dive on tech’ businesses and mobile applications. The work led to the formulation of a set of recommendations and business plans on the way forward to create a mobile applications incubator looking at different models. Altai’s work has been published by the World Bank and can be downloaded here.

Critical Success Factors in rural Mobile Money agents in Sub-Saharan Africa for the GSMA

The GSMA’s Mobile Money for the Unbanked team (MMU) appointed Altai Consulting to analyse the key success factors of mobile money agents in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. This multi-country project entailed intense data-analytics (both on mobile usage data and MFS data), along with primary research (quantitative phone-based, qualitative field based, in-depth interviews) in three sub-Saharan countries (Chad, Mali and Uganda). It involved multiple market stakeholders: the MFS operator’s team, the retailers, distributors and mobile money users. The outcome of the project consisted in actionable road-maps helping MFS operators to i) structure their agent network (number of agents, location of the agents, type of shops, etc.), ii) operate their network (training, branding, etc.) and iii) optimize their network’s financial management (commissions scheme, master agent’s activities, rebalancing, etc.).

Support to the development of the 321 service, a partnership between the mobile operator Airtel and the NGO HNI (focus: mAgri, mHealth and mFinance) in Madagascar

Altai Consulting has supported the 321 service, an initiative whose goal is to disseminate public service announcements among large audiences in Madagascar in the area of microfinance, agriculture, public health, gender, etc. The service relies on a partnership between the mobile operator Airtel and the US-based NGO HNI. Announcements are subsidized by donors and implementers such as USAID and the World Bank and are disseminated using SMS, interactive voice response and USSD. The service has reached so far as many as 3m individuals since 2010. Altai’s involvement consisted in extensive data analytics to analyse customer experience and assess the ability of the service to create “quality engagement” as opposed to usage of individuals not getting access to messages in full. The outcome of the project is a comprehensive list of recommendations to improve the service and strategies to create a new monetisable value proposition with a view to ensure its sustainability in a context where 321 is scheduled to be launched in 5 additional African countries in 2015.

Evaluation of the Malomat mAgri service in Afghanistan

Altai Consulting has conducted a full review of the Malomat mAgri information service, which acts as a national price and trade information database and network for local farmers, suppliers, traders, and wholesalers in Afghanistan. The service provides access to agricultural commodity pricing, and supply and demand information via SMS and IVR. The service is accessible on any mobile phone using short codes. Customers can select the short code for any of the 30 commodities tracked by the program such as chicken, pomegranates, raisins, rice, or wheat, and receive real-time information about the highest and lowest price being offered for the crop. Growers and traders can post and exchange alerts about supply, crop yields, price changes, or availability.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) project on 8 m4D services in Africa for the GSMA

Altai Consulting is currently conducting MEL to support 8 selected services and help them improve their reach and impact. The objective of the project is also to provide major learnings for the wider industry. The project includes extensive fieldwork in Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Evaluation of NextDrop, a digital start-up company informing households about the intermittent supply of local main-line water in three Indian areas

Altai Consulting has been mandated by the GSMA to support NextDrop, an Indian social business that has developed an app to connect them with the service workers (‘valvemen’) who manually open and close valves controlling the water. NextDrop then sends residents text messages when water is coming and relies on customer feedback to adjust the mapping of the network and assess the quality of water supply received. The service reduces waiting time for water users and enables better planning and rationing of stored water supplies. Altai’s involvement consisted in an in-depth data analytics assignment to measure the key barriers along the consumer journey and determine the changes required in the business model for the service to scale up efficiently while it is planning to expand in many Tier-2 cities in India.