Mobile Phone Communication in the Margins of Africa: Continuity and Change of Communication Patterns and Society

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Mar 07, 2011
Mobile Phone Communication in the Margins of Africa: Continuity and Change of Communication Patterns and Society data sheet 1009 Views
de Bruijn, Mirjam and Brinkman, Inge
Publication Date: 
May 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Anno 2010 the mobile phone seems to be an everyday device in African societies. The phone culture is a given, especially in cities but increasingly as well in rural areas where almost everybody lives in a circle of 50 km from mobile reach. It is only 20 years ago that the first cities in Africa were connected and only since a few years that the rural areas are within mobile reach. It is because of this short implementation phase that the 'normality' of the mobile phone in Africa raises many questions. Why the mobile phone was so easily adopted? What changes did it bring to African societies? Was the revolution in technological change a societal change as well; and if so in what sense and for whom?

In this paper we investigate these questions for so called 'marginal' mobile populations in Africa. These are people from marginal areas who have been pushed out of these areas for creating a better livelihood, for political reasons, etc., leading to the formation of mobile societies/communities. These are people whose relationships expand over vast social spaces, and for whom communication is a pivotal importance for their social life. Especially in these populations we expect social change due to new ICT's, especially the mobile phone. Case studies from Cameroon and Mali (pastoral nomadic societies), and Chad and Angola (refugees, displaced people for political reasons) show that we should consider mobile phones in a sequence of communication strategies of the people living in these mobile societies, that indeed means social change and economic change, but at the same time is a continuation of existing social patterns. The phone culture is part of existing communication cultures in Africa

Can you find me now? Refugees United Goes Mobile to Help Reunite Refugees

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Oct 28, 2010
Can you find me now? Refugees United Goes Mobile to Help Reunite Refugees data sheet 3822 Views

As part of a pilot project in Uganda, Refugees United is using mobile tools to help connect refugees who have been displaced by war, persecution, and natural disasters. Refugees United is a Danish NGO that designed and runs a web-based program to help people directly reconnect with missing loved ones. For the mobile pilot, it is working in conjunction with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), mobile phone maker Ericsson, MTN, a mobile telecommunications company in Africa and specifically MTN Uganda, as well as other partner organizations on the ground.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The goal of the mobile pilot is to perform outreach, training, and registration at refugee camps in Uganda and analyze results.

Brief description of the project: 

Refugees United is doing a six-month mobile pilot program in Uganda that allows refugees to register via mobile phone for a service that helps them connect with missing family members.

Target audience: 

The target audience for the mobile pilot is refugees in Uganda who are looking for missing family members.

Detailed Information
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 

The Refugees United pilot leveraged a technology -- the basic mobile phone -- that users are familiar with. Another success is the strength of the partnerships involved with the program. Refugees United drew from the existing local knowledge of organizations on the ground.

What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

Safety and trust within the system are ongoing concerns.

The Mobile Minute: Mobile Web in the Aussie Elections, the Kenyan Mobile Price War, and Refugees Turn to Mobiles

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 14, 2010


Today's Mobile Minute brings you coverage on Australia's record mobile web usage during the recent elections there, how telecom's price wars in Kenya have pushed down prices, why carriers may have raised the price of Google's Nexus One, a project Ugandan refugees using mobiles to find missing family, and competition for data-enabled handsets in Africa.