As the telecoms boom spread across the world and, left large parts of Africa behind, it was often felt that Africa was missing out on a technology revolution. But have the tables now turned?
Explore the telecoms infrastructure of countries like the UK or US, and you will find an enormous problem of legacy cabling – how can an entire nation move on when the infrastructure has been based on copper cable for so long? Advanced nations have moved on to fibre optic cable, but the ‘last mile’ from exchanges to homes is still proving tricky in most modern societies that have enjoyed good telecommunication systems for a long time.
This means that in many parts of Africa the mobile network has been the focus of telecoms planning. Base stations can be quickly erected without too much fuss allowing large areas to come on stream using mobile handsets – and now there are almost 700m mobile phone users in Africa.
As this recent BBC article documents, entrepreneurs are building an entire ecosystem of applications that use and share information, and all of them focused on the mobile phone as the main interface – not the PC.
African entrepreneurs are showing the world that what may once have been seen as a disadvantage could now be creating the most innovative mobile phone applications market in the world.
Photo by Hery Zo Rakotondramanana licensed under Creative Commons