7 Ways Mobile Phones Have Changed Africa

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One lesson from the 2011 uprisings across North Africa was that mobile phones, with the infinite opportunities they offer for connection and communication, are able to transform ordinary citizens disenchanted by their governments into resistance fighters.

During the coup against former President Hosni Mubarak, his regime successfully put pressure on Egypt’s mobile phone networks to pull the plugs, in a bid to slow down opposition activity. Across the continent, mobile phones are also bringing unprecedented levels of openness and transparency to the electoral process, empowering citizens.

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A 2009 survey found that “entertainment and information” were the most popular activities for which mobile phones are used in Nigeria, in particular engaging in multimedia through interacting with favorite radio shows, voting in reality shows, downloading and sharing songs, photos and videos, as well as tweeting.

However, companies are creating mobile-only platforms targeted for this market. Africa now teams with online platforms like Kulahappy, a popular online Kenyan “entertainment channel” developed for the mobile screen and AfriNolly, which bills itself as “African movies in your pocket.”

Nigeria’s mobile music industry (covering everything from mobile downloads to ringtone and caller-tune subscriptions) is now a multimillion-dollar industry.