Introducing Google SMS Uganda: Craigslist for Your Phone

Published on: Jul 13 2009 by Wayan Vota

I’m very excited to see that Google is taking a serious interest in Africa. From offices in South Africa and Kenya, to an open call for Africans to expand Google Maps across the continent, they’re serious about actually testing and rolling out services directly targeted to Africans. And now they’ve outdone even this level of engagement.

google-sms.jpg

With the explosive growth of mobile phone usage (but not always smart phones), Google is looking at brining the power of the web to SMS users. And they’ve just rolled out Google SMS for Uganda, a suite of mobile applications which will allow people to access information, via SMS, on a diverse number of topics

  • 6001: Google SMS Tips – Health tips, ClinicFinder, Farmer’s Friend (agriculture tips & weather)
  • 6006: Google SMS Search – News, sports scores, stock quotes, horoscope, glossary, currency converter, religious texts, translation, flights, Q&A, calculator, and local time
  • 6007: Google Trader Buy and sell on your mobile. Use Google Trader to find anything that you need to have, or want to sell or trade

While Google is particularly excited about Google SMS Tips, an SMS-based query-and-answer service, I’m thinking that Google Trader is going to be the killer app. I see a blossoming of person-to-person sales of all manner of products and services, that will quickly also absorb the nascent SMS-based agricultural pricing, becoming something of an African Craigslist.

And while the businessman in me is interested to see what items sell the most and the most profitably, the arm-chair sociologist wonders what search terms said items will be organized around – will they be anything you’d expect or will Ugandans organize their lives on whole other terms.

Wayan Vota works at FHI 360 and is a regular contributor to ICTworks. He started ICTworks, Technology Salon, Educational Technology Debate, OLPC News, Kurante, and a few other things.
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One Comment to “Introducing Google SMS Uganda: Craigslist for Your Phone”

  1. Wayan Vota says:

    Google does not have the golden touch in Uganda, according to TechMasai. Its Google Trader platform is struggling, even though it now has a web option as well. Proof? Their agriculture tag has only about 53 listings, which is marginal, and you still cannot use Google Checkout in Uganda to buy your items.

    Read More: Google Trader Is Given Its Own Space, By Google Uganda

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