Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 11:29am
CELLPHONES BRING A : - ) TO REMOTEST AFRICA
[SOURCE: The Christian Science Monitor, AUTHOR: Stephanie Hanes]
Over the past decade, the number of cellphone users in Africa has grown faster than anywhere else in the world. According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Entrepreneurial Programming and Research on Mobiles unit, the continent's cellphone usage has increased about 65 percent annually for the past five years – from about 63 million users in 2004 to 152 million in 2006. And the way people use and care for their mobile phones is different than in the wealthy, BlackBerry-addicted West. Here, people send text messages to friends, but also use their cells to do banking and organize political rallies. In areas with no TV, farmers use phones to get agricultural news and weather reports. (The Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange, for instance, sends text messages with up-to-date market prices.) In townships, entrepreneurs will set up cellphone booths, where passers-by can use airtime for a slightly inflated price. In all these ways cellphones have increased networking among Africans and have lessened the global "digital divide" between haves and have nots.
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