Mobile Phones are Changing Peoples’ Lives in Africa


Mobile phones have been changing the lives of Africans all over the continent more than any other invention before. There are more people using mobile phones in Africa than in Europe and America combined. In fact, mobile phones are growing fast on the whole continent, especially in regions south of the Sahara desert. Today there are 600 million mobile phone users in Africa. By 2016 the number will be close to a billion.

Mobile phones provide a wide variety of services that citizens, especially in rural areas wouldn’t have.  They offer education in places where it is hard to get. Mobile phones are used for farming projects, where farmers can get information on crop prices. Health websites tell villagers what to do in case of emergencies when no doctor is available or faraway.  People even use mobile phones for entertainment in areas where there is no TV. Mobile banking has become widespread across Africa because many Africans don’t have their own bank account. Over 60 million use mobiles to transfer and receive money quickly and at a low cost. Mobile phones are helping people set up businesses and make money, thus raising the continent’s overall income. Through mobile phones more people in Africa have access to the internet than to clean water or sanitation.


In the last ten years the number of mobile phone users in Africa has increased greatly. While in the early days people focused on sending messages and talking to relatives, the internet is the main service that is used today. It has become an absolute necessity and in many places has replaced the desktop PC. In Nigeria, for example, there are more mobile phone users than PC-Internet users. Especially Kenya is strongly connected to mobile phones. The country is also called Silicon Savanna because 92 % of all Kenyans go online through mobiles.


While most people are buying cheap, low-end phones, smartphones with internet access are becoming popular too. For phone makers Africa is the market of the future. Blackberry, for example, are stagnating in Europe and the USA but making a lot of profit in Third World countries.

Many Africans can remember the days when life without phone communication was extremely difficult. People in remote villages had to travel many kilometres to a cybercafé in order to access the Internet. As there were only few landline connections, ill people often died because they couldn’t get medical help fast enough. Today, Africa is the first continent to have more mobile phone than landline connections.

The United Nations are stepping up efforts to provide even more help. The UN’s educational and cultural organisation UNESCO is helping Africans use mobile phones by holding conferences on how the device can increase the number of Africans who can read. It also offers help on how mobile phones can be used in classrooms. Teachers are shown how to teach with mobiles and provide knowledge to the poor.


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  • access = here: get into or use something
  • available = on hand, free
  • bank account  = agreement between a bank and a customer that allows a person to pay in and take out money
  • billion = a thousand million
  • business = company, firm
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • combined = together
  • crop = plant, like wheat or rice, which farmers grow as food
  • cybercafé = café where you pay to  sit at a computer and use the internet
  • device = small machine, tool
  • effort = try, attempt
  • emergency = an unexpected or dangerous situation that has come up
  • entertainment = film, TV or performance that is intended to interest or amuse people
  • especially = above all
  • extremely = very
  • faraway =distant
  • focus on = concentrate on
  • income = money you get for the work you do
  • increase = go up
  • invention = something useful that has been made for the first time
  • knowledge = education , information
  • landline = phone connections that travel over a fixed cable, not a mobile connection
  • low cost = cheaply
  • low-end = not so expensive and of a lower quality
  • necessity = something that you need
  • popular = widespread
  • profit =money
  • provide = offer, give
  • raise = to make something go up
  • receive = get
  • remote =faraway
  • replace = to use instead of
  • rural = countryside
  • sanitation = the process of removing dirty water and making it clean again
  • service = help,  work that someone does for you
  • stagnate = to stay the same
  • step up = increase
  • thus = therefore, as a result
  • variety = very many different types of
  • villager = person who lives in a village
  • widespread = common, popular