, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 117-126,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 04 Jan 2007

Mobile phones in Africa: how much do we really know?


Mobile phones are a crucial mode of communication and welfare enhancement in poor countries, especially those lacking an infrastructure of fixed lines. In recent years much has been written about how mobile telephony in Africa is rapidly reducing the digital divide with developed countries. Yet, when one examines the evidence it is not at all clear what is really happening. In one country, Tanzania, for example, some observers point to the fact that 97% of the population lives under the mobile footprint, while others show that ownership is very limited. These extreme values prompted us to review the situation in Africa as a whole, in an effort to discover what is really going on.