Radio and Mobile Combine To Forge Progress In Africa
The term Ring Tone Revolution may appear irreverent considering the gravity of repression in Zimbawe, but it symbolises the individualistic expression sought by the young and the tool they find at hand; their mobile phone.
The BBC Technology website has reported on initiatives in Africa that fight corruption, despotism and cronyism. Websites in various African nations serve to collect reports of these endemic problems and focus the efforts of activists on placing news of abuse before the populace and world opinion.
However, the key to success has been the expanding mobile phone access that today provides access to 650 million subscribers and expands at an estimated 20% per annum.
Social Networking Success
Following success in the UK elections, where Tom Steinberg’s MySociety and TheyWorkForYou websites facilitated dialogue between MP’s and voters before the last general election, he has subsequently helped launch a similar website in strife torn Kenya.
Steinberg believes that the web based format that grew out of the success of social networking sites, combined with local radio initiatives and the ever expanding mobile text network, generates the momentum needed to unite opinion, steer politicians and expose the corrupt and despotic.
NGO’s On Safari
The Arab Spring illustrated clearly that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were adapted to unite opposition to long established and corrupt regimes. However, neither sites were created with the intention of subverting repression; they were simply ubiquitous and available.
The TheyWorkForYou model is now being used by the NGO Sodnet as the platform for an election monitoring called Uchaguzi which monitors incidents of electoral intimidation in Kenya.
A country where the Safari industry relies upon peace and safety that can be seen to be a reality.
The same was used recently in both Uganda and Zambia where in the post election period it has transformed into a tool for long term monitoring and public concern.
In Kenya, Sodnet advisor Philip Thigo is quoted as saying that it transformed how elections are monitored, “acting in real time to impact elections as they take place, creating pressure on officials to act.”
Radio and Text
The dispersal of information across Africa remains decidedly low-tech; radio is state of the art in many communities. The importance in combination with a more hi-tech device, the mobile phone. has become evident.
However, hi-tech is a relative term in the developing world and SMS text is proving the economically driven choice.
Ring Tone Remedies for Global Catastrophe
In recent global emergencies, where earthquake, cyclone or flood have devastated local infrastructure, the coordinated use of radio and mobile (ring tone) devices has proven to be hugely beneficial to Governmental and NGO response.
Ken Banks who created FrontLineSMS stated:
“Clearly rural radio and mobile technology are a potent mix. Independently, both are making significant contributions – both directly and indirectly – to the communities they seek to serve. Together there is every chance they could achieve yet more.”
Not Free Ring Tone But Freedom of Expression
The cellular ring tone is loud and clear, freedom of expression is on the march across Africa.
Radio can be transmitted to subjugated citizens from enclaves or abroad.
Governments, no matter how repressive, cannot stifle the legitimate demand for the cellular communication that feeds previously difficult to access benefits such as, education, health and commercial aids such as finance.
The mobile phone offers Africa a serious opportunity to develop and escape from poverty. At Unlockworldwide.com we consider that the ring tone may herald a brighter future.