In Mobile Phones: The New Talking Drums of Everyday Africa, the authors discuss a new phenomenon in the country. Mobile phone use is growing there, having increased to a point where now, one in every three people in Africa has a mobile phone. This is up from one in fifty just a fear years ago, and as the authors note, this has had a tangible impact on how the people of that continent live their lives. By focusing on a few different African nations, this particular book is able to paint a perfectly clear picture of just what impact this technology is having not only on the daily lives of the individuals in these countries, but also on the development of a number of nations in Africa.
Perhaps most interesting are the practical implications of mobile phones. Many people living in the Western world take for granted the fact that now, with cell phones being ever-present, people no longer have to travel in order to get information to one another. They can simply place a call or send a message. This is a major time-saver that makes everyone more efficient. Africa is finally getting to experience this is in turn, and it is changing the way people live their lives in a number of different parts of the continent. People no longer have to go one day-long treks in order to get information to their loved ones. Not only does this help in emergency situations, but it also helps when it comes to family connection. Mobile phones have helped to make families more connected, allowing them to have more constant communication with one another.
The book also notes that in places like Cameroon, the development and introduction of cell phone technology has helped to make the urban environment a better and more connected one. One of the most important elements of any college environment is the idea that people should be able to connect and share information in turn. Phones are making this easier, and they are modernizing urban areas very quickly. One should not be so quick to just think about cities, though. One of the unique things about the cell phone revolution in Africa is the fact that even some people in rural areas have cell phones in this day and age. When they have those phones, people in these areas are less likely to be marginalized and lost in the shuffle. It is an important piece of technology that can eventually help these individuals improve both their social standing and their economic prospectus.
Technology tends to build upon technology. This is one of those important rules of the modern world. When places have certain forms of technology – like computers, for instance – they are much more likely to use that technology in order to develop even better technology moving forward. These things build upon themselves, and it seems as if Africa is experiencing some of this. Many countries in Africa are seeing a rise in Internet connectivity, and the people are beginning to crave new technologies. What this suggests is that mobile phones are about more than just mobile phones. Rather, they are about a longing for more technology and communication capability by the people who happen to live in those nations.
Mobile phones are coming to Africa, and the development of technology there is helping to turn many countries into developed, connected nations. Not only are these things helping people in an economic sense, but they are bringing more social connections to Africa. Africans in various countries are finding new ways to connect with family, solve their practical problems, and move forward.
- Aker, J. C., & Mbiti, I. M. (2010). Mobile phones and economic development in Africa. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 207-232.
- De Bruijn, M., Nyamnjoh, F. B., & Brinkman, I. (Eds.). (2009). Mobile phones: The new talking drums of everyday Africa. African Books Collective.
- James, J., & Versteeg, M. (2007). Mobile phones in Africa: how much do we really know?. Social indicators research, 84(1), 117-126.