LIVE FROM MWC KIGALI 2023: Ekele Kanu, head of MNO partnerships for EEMEA region at MasterCard (pictured), pressed on the need for industry collaboration, which he argued is central to delivering a meaningful experience for users and had proved key to digitising financial transactions.

In his keynote on day 3, Kanu said there was a distinct need to ensure infrastructure created is not only used to increase internet usage and promote inclusiveness in the region, but also “create priceless experiences”.

Pointing to technologies such as AI, cloud and data analytics, the executive said such developments would drive better experiences, but partnerships across the industry, with operators, SMEs and start-ups were key to making that happen.

During his presentation, the executive also reflected on how people engaged with businesses before the internet existed.

“We started with simple things”, said Kanu. “We go to the market, do our transactions, and go home,” but as the population grew, merchants started to explore new ways to reach more customers.

Business owners then became travellers who had to learn new languages. “Now, we talk about the world wide web, and we have networks everywhere,” bringing forth what he termed as the “digital mindset” where everything is accessible through digital technologies and everyone is “ready to consume digital content”. 

Kane also argued a need for a new business paradigm: “Old paradigm is about profit, a top-to-bottom business model. It worked over decades.” 

“New paradigm is about the priceless experience you want to bring to people.”