How the developing world is using cellphone technology to change lives

From the Toronto Star by Tim Alamenciak an update on cell phone technology’s impact on the developing world

In Nigeria, a young girl can ask questions about sex discretely through SMS and get accurate information.

After the earthquake in Haiti, survivors in remote towns could receive money for food straight to their cellphone.

In Senegal, election monitors sent updates on polling stations through their mobile phones, revising an online map in real time with details about late openings or worse.

Projects like Learning about Living in Nigeria, MercyCorps in Haiti and Senevote2012 in Senegal are just a few examples of how the rapid spread of mobile technology has changed life in the global south.

Many places are jumping straight from paper records to mobile information because they are getting cellphone towers before Internet connections or even traditional phone lines. This means that for the first time it’s possible for a doctor in Guatemala City to monitor a newborn baby in a rural part of the country.

“People who never had access to information can get to a telecentre or a computer at their church or they have a mobile phone even if they share that mobile phone with their whole family and everyone just has their own SIM card,” said Revi Sterling, director of Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD) graduate studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“If that’s your data collection tool instead of papers that get blown away and eaten by goats, that’s valuable,” said Sterling.

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John Waibochi, Kenya’s mobile mega-entrepreneur

More of Africa’s entrepreneurs who are leading the world – when the world thinks Africa is asleep and believes everything that is said in the media about it – there is another side of Africa – one which does not depend on aid and the WTO – but gets up and does amazing things with technology and people – linking and blurring the urban and the rural as technology like the mobile internet platform of the cellular phone is able to do .By MANDY DE WAAL on DAILY MAVERICK 

The winner of the Innovation Challenge Award, John Waibochi’s “Virtual City”, has become a formidable force in East Africa because it is not only transforming logistics management for big companies, but because it is addressing the real issues by pioneering mobile business management solutions for smaller traders. By MANDY DE WAAL.

Watch:  John Waibochi being interviewed on Kenya’s K24TV

Acquiring high-level technological talent is what keeps John Waibochi up at night. There are enough entry level programmers in Kenya for Waibochi to take his pick, but when a business becomes as successful as his, growth drives a hungry demand for top talent. It’s the technology engineers and systems architects that Waibochi is finding hard to acquire locally for Virtual City. Continue reading