Mobile phones and job creation in Africa

By Howard Rheingold, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 12 years 22 weeks ago.

(Thanks, Rich!)

Mobile Africa is an interesting resource for those who are tracking the impact of mobile phones in Africa. This post about the role of phones and job creation is of particular interest:

Some few days prior to the commencement of my examination, I was very broke and needed some money urgently, the fact that it was a weekend was not helping the matter. Then, I remembered I had some few airtime credit left on my phone, I quickly called a friend who later sent me recharge credit number of MTN (Nigeria's leading cellular network) via SMS, which I later exchanged with someone else for some cash. I could then attend to my immediate expenses and concentrate on my examination, thanks to GSM! This is one the many blessings the mobile telecommunication network has brought to Nigeria ever since its introduction in the country some few years back. Little wonder Mr. President is quickly to point out at this sector as one of his major achievements. The technology has really contributed immensely to the well being of a good percentage of the populace and its impact is felt in all the sectors of the economy. Therefore, it is necessary to review some of the successes of GSM and how it has affected Nigerians.

To start with, job creation is probably the best opportunity “geesm” (as it is popularly known) has ever brought to the country, either unskilled or trained. Many have become their own boss simply by making calls available at a retail price and lower charges to callers, some sell recharge cards to GSM users who wish to reload their account and others sell phones and their accessories to subscribers, all these are easy to set-up with little capital. Some GSM operators even go to the trouble of making provision for installmental payment available to this category of people with chairs, umbrella and even phone sets at a reasonable price, as incentives. Call it marketing strategy, but the fact is that somebody somewhere is able to engage in something which brings return no matter how little it is and thereby add value to his or her precious life, half bread they say is better than none.