We have all heard the siren song of 3G or even 4G mobile broadband data changing the dynamics of Internet access across Africa. If you believe the hype, everyone in Africa now has unlimited Internet thanks to their mobile phone.
That just isn’t true.
Take a look at the network coverage map of Zimbabwe and note all the blank, white space where no one gets 3G. Guess what, in all that white space no one gets 2G either – that’s the no coverage zone in one of the richest countries in Africa. Other countries, like Tanzania, have even less coverage.
So before you assume away connectivity barriers by thinking 3G (or even 2G) mobile broadband will suffice for your technology intervention, take a good look at the GSMA’s Mobile for Development Intelligence network coverage maps and start figuring out Internet access Plan B.
And that’s just one of many reasons why public access to ICTs matter in the age of mobile phones.