MOBILE TECHNOLOGY IN AFRICA The Emergence and Indispensability of Mobile Phones

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ABSTRACT

One of the numerous innovations that has made tremendous impact on the global society today is the availability of mobile phones. Mobile phones have become 'must have' devices owing to their role in communication. The purpose of this thesis is to highlight the importance and impact mobile technology has had over the years in Africa. In the early 80s, Africa was seen and regarded as a continent blessed with diverse resources, people, tribes and more but needed something different to keep her in touch with the rest of the world in terms of technology. This thesis will focus on mobile telephony use, the economic and social impact in Africa and some of the opportunities and challenges of this technology.

In this research work, further discussions will be made in detail including the routes which led to the proliferation of mobile devices, level of growth over the years, how African people have embraced this great technological innovation and conclusively, ways by which we can further improve on them to better the lives of all. The singular reason special interest was taken in this area of research was to fully comprehend how African people have fared since the invention of mobile phones and to an extent, and the Internet which provides a platform upon which these devices are used. Furthermore, this thesis also ascertains the trends regarding the ways these devices are used by different African countries and provides a wider knowledge of how the various telecommunication companies have helped in making their use a worthwhile experience.


KEYWORDS: Africa, mobile technology, mobile phones, telecom companies.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Introduction
1.1 Research Background and Objectives
1.2 Research Methodology

2. History of Mobile Technology in Africa
2.1       Initiative and Motivating Factors
2.2       Humble Beginnings
2.3       Mobile Technology and People's Perception
2.4       Groundwork for Expansion
2.5       Comparison with Western Counterparts

3. Mobile Phones- Advent and Invention
3.1       Rural versus Urban Users
3.2       General Accessibility
3.3       Affordability

4. Impact on the African Society
4.1 Social and Domestic Impacts
4.2       Benefits of Mobile Phones and Effects on People
4.3       Roles of Telecommunication Companies

5. Growth of Mobile Phones
5.1       Limitations and Factors affecting growth
5.2       Current Trend, Projections and Future of Mobile Phones
5.3       Improvement

6. Case Studies on Mobile Money, Penetration and General Use in:
            6.1 Uganda
            6.2       Nigeria
            6.3       South Africa
            6.4       Egypt

7.         Conclusion
8.         Further Research

9.         References



1    Introduction

1.1       Research Background and Objective

Even though there has been a colossal boom in mobile technology in Africa over the years especially with mobile phones, one would say it is not yet a foregone conclusion regarding the overall use and how far this technology has traveled. It is generally accepted that “Behind every glory lies a story”. This is so true with the birth of mobile technology because prior to the beautiful portable devices we use today, there was a great deal of work done. Many years ago, people were faced with problems of food, transportation, health and more, but bothered little about technological advancements and innovations that would change their lives for the better and make things much easier. Today, people have come to realize the importance of mobile phones in many respects.

Mobile technology is any portable technology which includes laptops and notebook computers, mobile and smart phones, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), palmtop computers, personal digital assistants and so on. There is a conventional saying in Africa that "When a man goes out and sees something good, he should bring it home and help his kinsmen". This has literally worked to a large extent in enabling majority of the African societies take cognizance of the importance of mobile phones.

It is worthy of note that, Africa did crave to have some of the best technologies found in the western world and did not know how to bring such to their doorsteps. In this light, the objectives of this research will be to:

Ø  Examine some rigorous paths which led to the emergence of mobile phones in Africa.

Ø  Evaluate the situations in various African countries


Ø  Analyze their importance on the African continent.

Ø  Examine the social impacts on families and society at large.

Ø  See where mobile technology was some 15 years ago, where it is now and make projections for the future.

Ø  Evaluate growth and what has been put in place to sustain it.

While we have been experiencing a huge increase in this sector in the Western world since the 1980s, the developing world is however, growing very rapidly too. In 2009, there were about 4.6 billion mobile phone subscribers in the world of which a massive 3.2 billion of those were registered in the developing world (Castells, et al., 2007; International Telecommunication Union, 2009). The reason why particular focus is made in Africa is not just to explicate the ICT penetration level vis-à-vis the advanced world, but to highlight the significance and growth these devices have registered in the global market as well.


1.2       Research Methodology

To elucidate the current trend in mobile technology with regards to mobile phones. Also, to highlight where and how Africa came to embrace this technology. Particular focus is made on mobile phones given their relevance in ICT on the entire continent. Risks and /or effects of their use, certain behavioral exhibitions by people and lots more.

The literature research was conducted in English. Materials and information were derived from secondary sources and correlations made. Materials were obtained from sources such as the internet, MTN local stores in Nigeria and Cameroon and online books/ articles. Inquiries and interviews were also made and conducted with ICT experts, personal findings in Nigeria and Cameroon.


Results will be thoroughly and qualitatively analyzed, as deductions will be made as well.


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This is a General Thesis for both Undergraduate & Postgraduate Studies. The complete research material plus questionnaire and references can be obtained at an affordable price of N3,000 within Nigerian or its equivalent in other currencies.


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