Mobile West Africa has kicked off in Lagos this morning. This event has brought together some of the leading innovators and thinkers in mobile in Africa and around the world.
Better use of mobile in Africa
Gustav Praekelt, MD and founder of Praekelt Digital started the conference sharing how technology can be used for better inclusion on different areas of everyday life.In a world where mobile is used for non critical things such as liking and tweeting over 2 billion mobiles are not being served with useful services. Praekelt asks “how is it possible we live in a world where facebook is free on mobile while mothers can’t get free medical advice”.
Helping democracy function
In South Africa, Praekelt used mobiles to help enable individuals during elections to report protests intimidation and corruption by using ussd, Mixit, twitter Gchat SMS and a dedicated mobile platform. In Libya, they similarly enabled 1 million people to register using simple inclusive technology to help basic democracy exist.
Making services really mobile accessible
Mobile can also be used to help existing web services reach the non smartphone people better. Wikipedia has over 517 million monthly users but only 65 million access it from African and India. Wikipedia is a free and accessible service but that doesn’t mean it is actually mobile accessible as data and smartphone penetration is low. To combat this Praekelt integrated USSD so mobile users on basic handsets in India and Africa could access Wikipedia using a free USSD code and receive information on their mobile in the form of basic SMS and USSD.
Mobile helps MAMA’s
In South Africa MAMA is a mobile maternity service launched to help mothers. Praekelt said they “sent over 478K messages to 180K mothers across South Africa” which means they got vital information about caring for themselves and their babies. This mobile initiative has been so successful it has been selected by the South African government to be rolled out nationally. This proves that the mobile industry can both make money while also helping to save a lot of lives if we build inclusive technology.