Technology and Changes on the Continent

“In 10 short years, what was once an object of luxury and privilege, the mobile phone, has become a basic necessity in Africa.  – Paul Kagame

About a decade ago, there were less than four million mobiles in Africa. Now, there are over 500 million mobile phones on the continent and 20 to 30 percent of them are internet enabled. It is estimated that by 2016, there’ll be about a billion mobile phones with about 80% of them being internet enabled.

Telecommunication has transformed our businesses into mobile and global enterprises. We now have faster access to information; better, much quicker ways of getting things done; and easier ways to connect with people, share information and ideas.

Our mobile phones are practically an extension of our lives. They serve as our banks, novels, textbooks, televisions, maps, alarms, weather stations, newspapers and much more.

Some areas that have been transformed by technology include:

Education
There has been great improvement in education in Africa. Now, students have access to unlimited information on the internet. With mobile learning, there’s equal access to quality learning regardless of location, age and sex.Technology has provided institutions, teachers, and parents access to meaningful data and tips to help students. There are platforms like Efiko, MoMath, Eneza that give students access to tests and other resourceful materials.On a larger scale, we now have easy access to free (and paid) online courses from prestigious universities all over the world.

Banking & E-commerce
According to a 2012 World Bank report, more than 2.5 billion people are without access to a bank account. Mobile technology is quickly helping change this statistic. Today more than 55 million Africans use basic phone services to transfer money with each other, to pay bills and buy airtime, buy goods and make payments to individuals and much more.There are lots of services that enable Africans shop online. We can now buy everything from fresh fruits to electronic gadgets.

Entertainment
A 2009 survey found that “entertainment and information” were the most popular activities for which mobile phones are used in Nigeria. We share pictures, download songs, watch movies, read books, meet new people, play games and a variety of other activities.We have platforms like Kulahappy, OkadaBooks, Afrinolly, IrokoTV, Eskimi, Spinlet, Kuluya and so many more.

Healthcare
In recent years, there has been improvement mobile health technologies, including health text messaging projects, remote monitoring, and mobile phone applications. According to WHO, nearly 30% of drugs supplied in developing countries are fake. In 2009, about 100 Nigerian children died after they receiving teething medicine that contained a solvent usually found in antifreeze. Now, buyers can send unique codes within scratch cards on medicine packaging to special number via SMS to find out if the drug is real or not.There are apps like Omomi and Impilo that can help you find healthcare providers nearest to you and In June 2011 the Health Alliance organized a Mobile Health Summit in Cape Town, South Africa. The Alliance “champions the use of mobile technologies to improve health throughout the world.”

Social Awareness and Youth Activism
Communication is a very important aspect of life. Mobile phones allow people to pass across information easily.A number of totalitarian governments around the world restrict internet usage and communication.Mobile technology has helped with creating awareness amongst youths about the problems facing Africa. A lot of youths are becoming more politically active, engaging in conversations and debates; and trying to raise awareness and mobilize their peers and gain support for their causes.Across Africa, mobile phones are also creating openness, transparency and awareness about the electoral process; empowering citizens from around the continent

This article first appeared on Narrate Africa

How else do you think technology has improved the continent?

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