The Potential And Limits Of Mobile Phone Usage For Development In Africa: Innovation And Top-Down-Meets-Bottom-Up Partnering

Laura Hosman, Elizabeth Fife


The African continent currently boasts the highest mobile telephony growth rates in the world, bringing new communications possibilities to millions of people. The potential for mobile phones to reach a large and growing base of users across the continent, and be used for development-related purposes, is becoming widely recognized, evidenced by the growing number of development-oriented projects, applications, and programs that specifically make use of mobiles. Pent up demand and limited resources have led to innovative usage and services being developed at the grassroots level. Yet much remains to be done by governments in order to support further growth of telecommunications markets and services, while the private sector, non-profits, and academics all have an important role to play in the development process as well. The phenomenon of top-down-meeting-bottom up partnerships that are springing up across the continent offers the potential for cultivating the necessary feedback loops between various actors involved in the development process, in order to create relevant applications that meet real needs.

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The Journal of Community Informatics. ISSN: 1712-4441