Mobiles for Development (M4D)? Er, nah. Mobiles for Fun (M4F)!

Ory Okolloh, Google’s policy manager for Africa and a Kenyan lawyer and activist, tells the Guardian’s Activate summit in London that Africans don’t view technology simply as a tool of development.The Guardian

Guess what. Africans, just as Westerners, simply want to have fun with technology. Grande surprise. People in Africa do not want to transfer money via mobile banking services the entire day. Just imagine. People do not want to check for fair market prices or the next purified water dealer all the time. Crazy, eh? People are not using their phones only when pregnant and in need for maternity programs.

Not to me mistaken: all those are valuable uses. They indeed are. But what I find rather disturbing is that literature and news coverage on mobile phones in ‚Africa‘ often focus on the so called M4D- or ICT4D-narrative (i.e. mobile phones/information and communication technology for development). But, truth to be told, what people really love doing is to just enjoy themselves with their technology by using Facebook, WhatsApp, buy and sell stuff on OLX, share and listen to the latest DJ sets, take and share pictures, discuss technical features of their phones against each other, and so forth.

And if there really is a crisis or whatever incident, then it is good people used their phones for fun, because that is how they got used to using them – also in case of an emergency like election monitoring (e.g. Ushahidi) or public outrage against unacceptable social action (e.g. #mydressmychoice in Kenya). More or less just like here, in the West, huh?!

 

Source:
Google’s Africa policy manager: ‚Africans enjoy technology‘ – video

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