The Economist – Mobile phones are transforming Africa, where they can get a signal

“DRIVE a few miles from the centre of Accra, the capital of Ghana, into the neat rows of houses that surround it and the paved roads disappear almost as quickly as the phone lines. Yet this has not dented the ambitions of Kwami Williams, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who is building a business processing moringa trees and exporting the resulting tea and cosmetic oils. Before mobile-phone usage exploded across Africa, starting a venture such as this on a shoestring would have been impossible—the costs of communicating with the thousands of smallholders who grow the trees would have been prohibitive. Now this business supports some 1,500 farmers.”

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“The last, and perhaps most important, changes include innovations that dramatically lower the cost of serving remote villages. Firms such as Nuran Wireless and Vanu are working on small, solar-powered mobile masts, which can be erected and operated for less than a quarter of the cost of conventional ones. The masts beam low-power signals that do not travel far, but they do away with the need for a generator. Such improvements may allow firms to make a profit from villagers spending as little as $2 a month to talk on their phones.[…]”

Read the full article on The Economist