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Mobile Phone an African Lifeline

I remember reading an article titled ‘Internet use on mobile phones in Africa predicted to increase 20-fold’ published by the guardian; in which researchers predicting a mobile internet use to increase and double the rate of growth in rest of world in the next five years.

In the African continent, Mobile technology is well spread just like in the West. A common feature is a tendency of owning two SIM cards (or two cell phones).

Earlier on phones were a reserve for a few. But now it has gradually become an essential part of life for all.

The success is attributed to access to affordable phones, diversified mobile products, rise of social media, content-rich apps and video content, governments support and so on.

Its success is also attributed to strategies adopted targeting the poor in the society and gradual reduction to roaming costs.

It’s now widespread mainly in urban; and rural areas.

However, government help is needed to reach far flung areas.

Definitely, it is a profitable sector with Africa now contributing about 7% of the world’s market, according to Wikipedia.

Internet usage is mainly through the phones especially by the youths who form a majority!

This is likely to go up as move free internet is being offered by African Governments and other multinationals! According to Reuters only about 15 percent of Africans have access to the Internet via their mobile phones. Service providers have developed a diverse calling, messaging and data plans (bundles) tailored to meet the needs of all in the society.

A report by Swedish tech company Ericsson indicates an increase in traffic by over 100%.

Though, primarily phones were made for voice calling. With time additional features have been incorporated which presents diverse opportunities like use of social media, mobile banking, mobile money, video calling etc.

Mobile phone is a vital tool for communication and mobilization.

For instance, during the Arab spring in Africa, mobile technology (phone) was a strategic tool in use then. Further, Politicians, civil society, businesses among others rely on this gadget to pass information to their target audience.

Mobile phones offer endless opportunities for entrepreneurs, especially the youth who can engage in development of apps.

To some, mobile phones are just their wallets because of the mobile commerce.

Mobile service providers are collaborating with other business and social organizations to develop diversified products and services with huge social economic impact.

However, there are a number of security threats associated with this openness.

There is need for continuous consultations with policy makers, researchers and the private sector on how to build on what has been achieved to enable an affordable, safe and accessible mobile phone use just like in other continents.

Truly, enhanced mobile phone access will remain a lifeline to the lives of many Africans, especially youths and women!

Last modified on Sunday, 03 January 2016 20:09
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