Mobile Technology for Community Development!

13 04 2009
Mobile Phones

Mobile Phones

In the recent 16 Days of Activism campaign Against Gender Based Violence (GBV) Raising Voices and EASSI in partnership with WOUGNET ran a campaign to create awareness of GBV through the use of Bulk SMS.
Throughout the 16 days, we (WOUGNET technical support) used the Bulk SMS tool to send messages to over 500 People around the world. Most of the people who participated in this campaign were from within Uganda however others were from countries outside Uganda.
This SMS tool is a Mobile Technology. Apparently many people in Uganda and around the world own cell (mobile) phones. In Uganda the distribution of telephone services is a phone for every 4 people. That implies that approximately 8 Million Ugandans owns mobile phones today.
This has been as a result of mobile phone prices becoming very cheap and also more service providers being licensed in the country. The tariffs (call rates) are also becoming affordable with offers to make cheap calls across the different networks.
In Uganda today people are using their phones for different purposes. And some of these purposes are not limited to special phones with a number of functionalities. For example last year I visited a local organization Kubere Information Center in Apac district (Northern Uganda) and here rural women farmers use their mobile phones to get updates on Market prices! Today I can get news headlines, forex rates and soccer updates on my cell from my service provider. Many people use their mobile phones to communicate and keep in touch with their friends and family most of these are youth. More advance users of mobile phones are demanding for more sophisticated mobile phones. To get one with all the functionality you need you will have to pay a good price for it as the prices vary from one distributer to another. Uganda Telecom one of the Telecom Service Providers has introduced 3G technology. This service provides a fast internet connection for mobile phones that are compatible with the technology. Other service providers are still using GPRS and EDGE technologies to provide mobile internet services. MTN (another Telecom Service Provider) had introduced mobile money. To use the service one has to subscribe on the MTN network and then register with mobile money dealers and then they can use their mobile phones to send and receive money.

Text To Change a Dutch organisation working here in Uganda is using mobile technology (SMS) to improve health and education facilities/ services through quizzes and SMS campaigns.
However all mobile phones support SMS. This is a basic function. And one of the most widely used technologies around the world.

Mobile technologies have been known to be “boring”, but with the new innovations they happen to be more cost effective and easy to use as compared to the web. Most of the web applications have been made available for mobile! Websites, social networking site like facebook, myspace etc.

Recently I was discussing with a friend about the innovative use of SMS and mobile technology and she told me that in Serbia people use their mobile phones to pay for parking space on the streets!

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