Many Africans experience what can only be described as a tumultuous existence. From Ebola to the threat of the Boko Haram terrorist group, it’s hard not to sometimes feel pessimistic about the state of the continent as a whole. However, along with recent announcements for an African Center for Disease Control, new economic developments may represent signs of change.


KFC announced recently that they have partnered with Airtel — a major telecommunications company — to allow customers at their five locations in Ghana to pay for their meals using their mobile devices. This means that instead of using traditional forms of currency when paying for food, Ghanaians can now utilize a simple function on the touch pads of their phone, with the funds drawn directly from their account.


This development, combined with the proposed expansion of JamboPay — Kenya’s leading online payment method — could usher in a new era of commerce for Africa. Mobile payments have already become fairly ubiquitous in the United States; success in these new regions could significantly serve to speed up global adoption of programs like Apple Pay.


Airtel technicians teaching the KFC staff to implement this new technique. (

Airtel technicians teaching the KFC staff to implement this new technique. (

To ease the transition, all KFC cashiers in Ghana have received training on how to assist customers with the payment process. As an added bonus to the whole deal, these KFC locations will also offer customers an extra piece of chicken for using the Airtel payment method.


This sort of incentive marketing could prove beneficial to both KFC and Airtel but also to the citizens of Ghana. Crime rates in the African country are classified as “high,” with muggings and pickpockets reportedly rampant; the option of digital currency could allay some Ghanaians’ justifiable fears of being robbed in the streets.


It remains to be seen if these monetary changes will gain wide acceptance across the continent, but hope remains that this represents one small step towards something bigger.


Do you think this is a good thing for the people of Ghana? What other companies could provide this sort of service? Comment below or tweet @connerws to keep the conversation going!