MOBILE PHONE USAGE AND INTERNET IN AFRICA

Joëlle Boekhold

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3 thoughts on “MOBILE PHONE USAGE AND INTERNET IN AFRICA

  1. Kjell Noordzij says:

    Thank you for your interesting video! You ask the question: what are the benefits of digital developments in Africa for agricultural businesses? You start the video by stating a couple of limiting factors like bad infrastructure and electricity. But as you say, mobile phone technologies are very present in Africa. This has a lot of implications for the labor market, as you show. There are both digital/technical businesses that help people in rural areas with their agricultural business and digital means that the farmers can use themselves, like Facebook. You conclude with stating that the digital revolution has given the agricultural businesses more online attention, the possibility of free advertising, fewer limitations in view of the infrastructure, and physical benefits for the agricultural sites using, for instance, drones.

    I like your analysis and find it interesting. I do have some questions and examples of possible cases you could also delve into more.

    First, I wonder whether one could find differences between successful and less successful business. Also, what about differences between agriculture in poor areas or agriculture in financially more successful areas? Or the core/periphery in Africa? So, I think it might be useful to compare different areas with each other to nuance the benefits of digital developments “for Africa”. You could, for instance, locally trace the businesses creating drones for agriculture versus the activities by the farmers themselves. Is there a core/periphery process going on here? Does this have implications? Who benefits the most? And which kinds of benefits are these?

    This comparison might also result in interesting findings such as different meaning making processes. You state how young African citizens see the Internet as a source of business. Are people in urban areas and rural areas giving a different meaning to the Internet? Are people living in capital cities using digital developments to make more and more money, while people living on agricultural sites use them to simp-ly survive?

    I also find your example of increased tourism activities to agricultural sites very interesting. You em-phasized the beneficial nature of tourism. But, is it really beneficial? Of course, tourism to agricultural sites brings financial benefits. But, what about Othering? Do tourists visit the agricultural sites to learn about Africa, learn about agricultural habits, or do they want to “experience” African agriculture and meet “poor farmers”? For this, you could us Melanie K. Smith’s (2016) book “Issues in Cultural Tourism Studies”.

    I think this offers some food for thought to improve this (already well-done) assignment!

    Best,

    Kjell

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  2. Loeszie says:

    Dear Joëlle,

    First of all, well done on your video. You speak very clearly and I also like how you used some graphs to support your statements.

    You provide good examples of ways in which the Internet and the digital revolution can benefit agricultural businesses in Africa (I particularly liked the example of having their own websites for promotion purposes, it’s not something you would immediately think of in this context). Agriculture is a great example because it is very relevant for the development of a country. However, I think it is a shame that you did not immediately focus you research question on Tanzania (or another pertinent example), because Africa is a huge continent with lots of countries with very different socioeconomic situations, and thus very difficult to cover in a 5 minute video. Kjell’s suggestion of comparing two different countries could also be interesting.

    Furthermore, your exact focus remained unclear to me. First, I thought you wanted to focus on mobile phones, then you moved to the Internet and you also mentioned drones (where do these fit in?). Although mobile phone coverage is widespread throughout Africa, people may not always have smartphone so having a phone does not imply having access to the Internet. Maybe your argument could have been clearer if you had focused just on mobile phones, or just on the Internet.

    Kind regards,

    Loes

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  3. Payal Arora says:

    Dear Joelle,
    Thank you for this interesting video. I agree with Loes that you speak in a clear and compelling manner, very fitting for this kind of video storytelling assignment. You chose a focused area – digital development and its impact on the agricultural sector but as the comments above state too, it would be nice to see it illustrated through specific countries as Africa is a large and diverse continent. You use statistics well to emphasize the growing potential of these technologies in this region. What I would suggest is to speak more directly to the rural access as that is where the agricultural sector lies and that differs remarkably from the urban sector. You quote some African official who states that Africa does not lag behind the rest of the world –obviously that is easy to critique that claim- I would not just critique it but also question why this kind of rhetoric is used in the global media arena, extending your argument on the use of digital tools to market and foster a positive image to an external audience. Lastly, while you touch upon the matter of agricultural businesses online, it is important to delve deeper into the range of these businesses and what you envision as key challenges and problems as Loes and Kjell has also underlined above. Overall interesting focus and effort that opens up new avenues to digital platforms for agricultural development

    Like

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