Tuesday, May 16, 2006

IMobile phones as a tool of social change in Africa

In todays Independent I read a feature on how mobile phones are giving hope to a new generation of African people. Diane Coyle writes about how the rise of mobile telephony has helped those in the most poverty to pull themselves out of the gutter. After hitting us with the stats about how the continent has been the fastest growing in numbers since the late 1990s she goes on to repeat the good news stories from the GSMA's outreach programmes of fishmen in Tanzania able to find the best price before landing there catch.

The article then goes on to talk of the resent resaerch project undertaken by the LBS paid for by Vodafone on the economic and social effects of the rapid spread of mobiles. Indeed in some areas communities are lobbying for their own mast and celebrate its arrival, how Vodafone wish that the same were true in the UK.

The only thing missing is a fact that I picked up on last year at the time of Make Poverty History when one of the speakers said that Mobiles were a tool of regime change. The speaker said that in countries were penetration was greater than 20% it was no longer possible for a dictator to control the media and so they were kicked out by the people. I guess that a large number of African states still have very low penetration rates!

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