[iDC] Cell phones in developing countries

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Thu Mar 1 10:14:16 EST 2007

The growth of cell phone use in Africa is indeed explosive: the lack of an extensive landline telephony infrastructure makes mobile phones a good alternative.
But consider this: In 2006, the Washington Post published an article showing that "worldwide, there are more than 2.4 billion cell phone users... and [a]bout
59 percent of these users are in developing countries, making cell phones the first telecommunications technology in history to have more users there than in
the developed world." [1] Cell phone usage in Africa, the article continued, is growing faster than in any other region and jumped from 63 million users two
years ago to about 152 million. This is not some kind of mobile business evangelism: life in Africa is changed drastically for those with access. 

Africa is in the grip of a mobile phone revolution. "The number of mobile phone lines in Africa rose from 15.6 to 135 million between 2000 and 2005"
OhmyNews reported how women in South Africa fight for their human rights with cell phones. [2] This report continued: “In a culture where people travel
long distances to find work, the mobile has become the most useful and ubiquitous piece of technology since the bicycle. Just as bicycles are used in rural
Africa to transport bananas or paying passengers, the mobile is changing lives in ways unimagined in the developed world. It links distant families and allows
the poor to communicate.” 


[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/08/AR2006070801063.html

[2] http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?no=339544&rel_no=1

Further Reading:

Talk is cheap, and getting cheaper

How mobile phones might revolutionize agriculture in West Africa

Wind and sun powered base station powers up in Africa

 For Africa, a godsend in cellphones

From Matatu to the Masai via mobile


The Future of Africa, part 1

The Future of Africa, part 2

More information about the iDC mailing list