Wave of the future?


One of the issues that I am currently looking at is to what extent is it possible that mobile phones can be used as a platform for distributing crucial information to development communities. Will the mobile phone networks in developing countries soon be reliable enough to deliver video content?

There are lots of instances of mobile phone networks being used as two ways data streams for rural communities, for example, to aid farmers to get more information on market prices and also on farming techniques. There's a good little film by IFAD about a project in Tanzania here. However, from what I have read and seen, the big issue for rural communities is still bandwidth and expense.

The Grameen Foundation also runs projects in Uganda to educate farmers by mobile phone, using a network of Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) as human information hubs (see this piece in the Observer). According to the Grameen foundation website, they are rolling out a project to deliver agricultural lessons to farmers via mobile phones, but I ma told by Grameen that the network is still not up and running and that the main reason for this is bandwidth.

As part of my studies and for research into some new film projects for Wild Dog, I commissioned my friend and colleague, Ugandan journalist William Odinga to write a short piece about the way film and TV is watched in Uganda and to look whether people are yet using mobile phones as a viewing platform. Despite the fact that broadband is now available in Kampala, local network provider MTN is offering 3g mobile broadband in "80% of the country" (and I am relaibly told that fast mobile broadband is a reality in Kampala), William reports that most people still only really have access to the internet at work in the office. While computers in the Global North are now very affordable, a machine that may cost as little as £300 on the high-street in the UK is still a big ticket item for families in a country when the average wage is still only $460 per year. William's piece is available to read here.

All these issues not withstanding, mobile phone technology is an ideal platform for developing communities. It is relatively cheap to install and as Gelvin has argued, it is harder for governments to close these networks down, should they choose to do so, because government officials also rely on the networks as a communication tool.

Wave of the future?

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Why this Blog?

I have set up this little blog as a means of gathering information and data for my Masters project. I will use the blog to collate some of the material that I find and post links to interesting content.

I am also planning to add some film reviews to the blog in due course.


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