By Kato Mivule | July 6, 2009
With Google’s launch of an Information Supply Blitz in Uganda combined with recent developments of Uganda getting connected to the Undersea Fiber Optic Cable Network, Africa is readying itself for an information revolution never seen before.
Google recently launched a new Mobile Phone Service – Google SMS involving the users in Uganda accessing a wide range of information on the web tailored to Uganda. This is a remarkable development and one that has the potential to transform Ugandan society.
“…Google SMS Tips provides health information and clinic location assistance to mobile phone users. It also provides agricultural and weather information to farmers… Google worked with the Grameen Foundation, MTN Uganda and several local organizations to develop and test these applications. “We believe it’s important to reach users wherever they are, with the information they need most, and in areas with the greatest information poverty,” said Payne…”
Google Fights Information Poverty In Africa |Informationweek | June 29, 2009
In a continent that surpassing both Europe and the USA is Mobile Phone subscription, it makes sense to have mobile phone users in Africa have access to the internet yet tailored around their needs.
However, Google’s goal is a little too ambitious in the “fight against information poverty” in Africa. The trouble with Africa’s telecom growth is that mobile phones are simply seen as devices to make phone calls.
It is Africa’s Middle Class that goes beyond the ‘phone calls’, yet many of the poor who can now afford a Mobile Phone find no other use for the mobile phone they carry. The Internet is still seen as something ‘exotic’ and ‘a thing for the wealthy’.
However, Google in her ‘war on Information poverty’ can actually borrow a leaf from the success of Telecom companies in Africa in hopes to drive the point home to many in Africa that Information Access is as important and useful as making the ‘phone calls’.
What Google has done in her ‘War on Information Poverty’ in Africa is flood Africans with ‘lots of info money’ only to be spent on nothing…too much unutilized technology…
This is the biggest challenge that Uganda’s Information Technology ministry faces…how to get folks to actually use this technology and then measure ‘success’ in whatever form it is deemed.
One of the best places to start would be Universities in Uganda. Universities would demand that every student own a Mobile Phone (Laptops are still too expensive), which almost all University students in Uganda own anyway.
The goal would be that Students would access educational information and communicate using their hand held devices with professors on various research projects. The next level would be High School Students and then on and on…