Friday, July 1, 2011

Radio + mobile phone(SMS) = increase in E-participation

Competition boosts mobile market
the increase in mobile phone usage in Africa has never been witnessed by any other technology in africa, mobile phones have spread at a very fast speed and have entered into the life and fabric of many of  Africans today. we are faced with an important question, can we be able to use this technology accelerate  development and good governance in Africa? can we be able to encourage e-participation from citizens, can this help in connecting people and bridge the digital divide.  mobile telephony, which by now there are evident that state that it is going to grow even more in the upcoming years in Africa is a tool that could be a powerful tool for Africa to be able to connect and benefit from the advantage that mobile telephony brings into a society.
image 
Source: blycroft
as we have witnessed lately some of there usage in recent event such as those witnessed in Tunis, Egypt and now in Yemen and Syria.
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some perspective even stated that such technology as mobile and the internet even changed the perspective of many young people in how they can voice there opinion with out violent means, such as the usage of peaceful protest Vs. the usage of violent act. we also know that they are becoming a important channel for many citizen who want to transfer money to there friends, families and loved ones. even now the usage of radio + SMS is empowering citizen to voice there opinion on social and political issues and increase Dialogue on governance issues in Africa. as we all know that the number of smart phone in Africa are not that high compared to none smart phone devices, so the usage of such simple thing as SMS could help bridge the gap between connectivity and affordability interim of allowing citizen to voice there opinion online. a good example of how SMS services are playing a role in connecting government with citizen (mobile governance or M-governance)  is a software that is called FrontlineSMS:Radio is a software that is programmed to help listener of radio to interact with radio station via SMS.  article that talks about FrontlineSMS and Governance can be read here http://radio.frontlinesms.com/2011/05/facilitating-dialogue-on-governance-in-africa/  the article also talk about Mo ibrahim one of the most famous telecommunication entrepreneur in Africa, and the founder of Mo ibrahim foundation for good governance. from the emergence of software such as the one stated above there seems to be a growing number of initiatives to increase citizen awareness of such tools and the internet and mobile phone so that they are able to empower themselves to voice there opinion online and collaborate in producing the services that they at the end themselves need. after all governments are meant to serve the people need not the other way around. as we are entering this stage of collaboration in some African states, i hope that many of these African state government official see these new tools as an opportunity to interact with citizen of there respected states not as a threat that should be remove. these tools can help a lot in developing a system where people can interact with each other and work together on projects and task that benefit the country they live in.

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