Tag Archives: Mobile phone

What did you expect?

18 Oct

A shopfront near Busia, Kenya

Have you ever been to somewhere new and thought, this isn’t what I expected. Maybe you’ve even told whoever you’re with, only to be confronted with the question, ‘well what did you expect?’. And you think…you know, I don’t know.

In many ways, travelling to Kenya and Ethiopia fulfilled many of my expectations. Mobile phones, as twitter would suggest, are truly everywhere. Everyone, in fact most of the adult population use MPESA to control their finances. But for some reason, if you’d told me that I would see phone masts rising amongst hilltops and eucalyptus trees I would have found it very hard to picture.

Which is funny really…

I admit, it was rather ignorant of me.

But one of the biggest lessons I learnt from the people that took their time to talk to me during my trip, I learnt from their reaction to my questions. The tilted head, the vague and baffled eyes when I asked if I could stop asking questions about their farm and speak to them about their mobile phone.

With the huge impact that mobile phones are having in the developing world, it can be easy to imagine that these revolutionary devices are the pride and joy of their owners, locked away and treasured above any other possessions.

But an egg is an egg is an egg. And a phone is a phone is a phone. True, they’ve become extrememly important to people. But they are still buried in people’s pockets, flung in baskets, and abandoned on bar tops.

In many ways this is their great beauty. In taking little steps to improve people’s everyday, they enable the big changes and make the giant statistics.


Sneak peak: Meet Florence

12 Aug

Meet Florence.

Florence lives near Busia in west Kenya. She is the Vice Secretary of Upendo III, a group of women farmers who have been working together since 1989.

I asked Florence how having a moible phone had affected her day to day life as a farmer.

You can hear her response here:

NB. A ‘boda’ or ‘boda boda’ is a bicycle or motorbike taxi. Interesting fact: The name orignates from Florence’s home town of Busia which lies on the border between Uganda and Kenya. Bikes would transport local people from Kenya to Uganda. ‘Border border’ became ‘boda boda’ and the name is now used in many other African countries.

The bottom billions…

8 Apr

Today I came across this little video, made by VocalPress ( @vocalpress ) As you can see they’ve got some exciting plans for the next few years aiming to share information with people that don’t have access to the internet. And what a great video. Simple is beautiful!

It’s a fact. In the developed world we take the internet for granted. But the reality is we’re in a minority. Only 30% of the world’s population have access to the internet. And many amongst these people would not be computer literate enough to use the internet.

Now compare this to what we know about mobile phones in Africa for instance. (A beautiful graphic isn’t it.) Mobile phones are the obvious link to the billions of people that don’t have access to the internet and the information that the internet makes available. Important information about health, money, education and natural disasters.

There are so projects many across the world which are using mobiles. They’re working for change and progress in all of these areas and many many more. Just pop the tag #ICT4D into Twitter (ICT4D = Information & communication technologies for development) and you’ll get a bit of an idea of the scale we’re talking.

It’s projects that are thinking along these lines that my documentary will be following. It’s all very exciting. Keep checking back and I’ll be taking a look at some of them in more detail.

In the meantime, there was a fab online symposium on Twitter today. Take a look at the Small Media Initiative, or search the tag #SMS2011 and keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for more.