Mobile phones have become the most popular and adequate infrastructure in Africa. It is, in fact, Africa’s leading platform, with more than half of Africans in possession of one even as the users expand.
It has generated a lot of income, opening up a lot of opportunities. In Sub-Sahara Africa, South Africa and Nigeria own more phones than other African countries.
We have curated here the history of mobile phones in Africa and their impact on African development.
History of Mobile Phones in Africa
Africans started using mobile phones in 2000 more than they did in other years. Across the globe, Africa has more mobile phone users than landline users.
As of 2002, there has been a rapid growth in mobile phone users in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria, and Uganda, with one out of ten persons. As at that time, there were few smartphone users in Africa as many used cell phones.
People use mobile phones for many reasons, including answering calls, sending messages, surfing the net, taking pictures, watching videos, and more.
Mobile phones were more common in Nigeria and South Africa as they recorded more owners than other Africa countries.
Compared to the eight percent of Ghanaians that have mobile phones in 2002, about 83 percent of them now have one presently.
The majority of the people that use mobile smartphones in African countries have excellent English speaking skills, both young and old.
Since 2019, most people in Sub-Sahara Africa have surfed the internet with their mobile phones, and the population will increase drastically by 2025.
During the introduction of mobile phones in Africa, it was more of a luxury, but presently, it is a necessity as you will find people of all ages using it every second of their lives.
The Impact of the Use of Mobile Phones in Africa
For many years now, mobile phone technology has become an essential tool in our daily lives. Africa uses millions of phone lines, with Nigeria being the largest market, followed by South Africa, Egypt, and Morocco.
Let’s take a look at the impact of mobile phones in Africa relating to various sectors of the economy.
1. In Agricultural Sector
In Africa, agriculture is among the significant occupation. The introduction of the mobile phone has, however, transformed the livelihood of farmers.
A farmer in a remote area as Tamale, Ghana, can get finance from anywhere globally. They can also have access to modern technologies, which in turn increase their productivity.
For instance, livestock farmers can now quickly know the gestation of their animals, control nutrition, breeding, and other advanced techniques.
Imagine what a relief it is for a farmer in the problematic Gulu, Uganda, to produce what can sustain them for a long time.
Additionally, mobile phones allow farmers in Africa to find out global crop prices, weather forecasts, insurance schemes and learn new farming methods.
2. In Education
Thanks to mobile phones and the internet, no matter your location in Africa, you can access thousands of educational content.
Through collaborative networks restructures the flawed educational system in Africa. Nowadays, most school children have access to formal education.
A typical example is the South African means for teaching mathematics called MoMoth through the Mxit social media tool.
3. In Mobile Money
An angler in the remote village of Kasensero, Uganda, can easily send money to and receive money from any part of the world. Africans can now easily buy supplies, pay bills and recharge with ease.
The mobile phone has made strategic impacts in the lives of Africans as they do not have to travel long hours to deposit or withdraw money from their bank accounts.
Most noteworthy, Gabon, Kenya, and Sudan have over half of their adults using mobile money transfer services like M-PESA of Kenya to make their transactions.
4. In Health
Since the introduction of mobile phones, medical diagnosis has become easy with many available online contents, hence curtailing the spread of many diseases.
It is easy to detect fake drugs in South Africa and many other African countries. Drug packaging has unique codes that you can scratch and send for confirmation.
These days, no matter where you are in Africa, you can have direct contact with healthcare providers for emergencies or advice.
5. In Disaster Management
The 2008 xenophobic attack in South Africa saw the tremendous impact of mobile phones. People had access to relief materials, reported emergencies, and reconnected with their loved ones just through SMS.
Some organizations, in collaboration with companies producing mobile phones, developed databases for refugee registration.
6. In Demonstration
In Kenya, the popular Ushabi platform was available during elections for electorates to report any violence in the election. The platform recorded great success as it was visible globally.
However, in the 2011 election in North Africa, Egypt, they shut down mobile phone networks on the 28th of January because of the rising uproars from opposing parties.
These two instances are typical examples of how greatly mobile phone has impacted the African continent.
7. In Leisure
Apart from acquiring information, the next most popular use of the mobile phone is for entertainment. In Nigeria, for instance, viewers and listeners do social media trends show on radios and voting in reality shows using mobile phones.
Many other entertainment companies are providing platforms that are only mobile-friendly to meet up and satisfy their target audience.
The introduction of mobile phones in Africa gave room to so many opportunities. Employers easily communicate Job offers and interviews conducted on the phone.
Relatives no longer spend time and money visiting their loved ones as they can quickly call. Businesses expand their horizon from the information they get on the fly.
People no longer travel to communicate or do business as before, thereby improving the standard of living.