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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

The “Mobile Web” as text and voice

The mobile web revolution has already spread around the world. The phase of it that we live in is where we see the internet hitting critical mass based on the availability of web connectivity on mobile devices. Data is widely available, and the costs continue to decrease at an alarming rate. We’re seeing the disruption this is causing already, from businesses to consumers, and within the political structures of entire countries.

THE MOBILE WEB from Duniamedia on Vimeo.

Dunia Media, out of Switzerland, has put together a good video showcasing this change.

Interestingly enough, this video showcases iCow and M-Farm, both providing agricultural data to farmers, not in a browser, but as text or voice messages. One could think the title to be a tad misleading, as the “mobile web” term is largely applied to web interaction on a browser on a phone.

What I like about this take though is this; the internet allows for a paradigm that doesn’t care what device you have, whether PC or phone, as long as you have a database and a channel you’re in the game. As long as the device has some type of text or voice communication it is suddenly a read/write platform.

What we’re seeing in applications coming from Africa is a way to stretch the use-case of “old” messaging technology like SMS, USSD or voice into new ways of data transfer that challenge Western conceptions of what the internet is.


  1. Great article and highlights one of the key ways Kenya has been able to lead the African tech revolution. Well done.

  2. Great observation Erik. One of the things that has also helped blur the line between the ‘real’ mobile web and the new mobile web even more is the applications that have bridged basic SMS and the internet to allow people to post updates to platforms like Facebook and do IM from basic SMS only phones like the Nokia 1200.

    One such application that has been popular here in Zimbabwe is the eTXT system by ForgetMeNot Africa launched last year. It’s available in Kenya as well I think but have no idea what uptake has been there.

    What’s even more interesting is the many possibilities this opens for app developers to create solutions for such a platform and provide even more creative basic phone to internet solutions.

  3. Hi Erik,
    Good points made but can’t see the video. Could you send me a password for it or should I be asking Dunia Media?

  4. I find it interesting that it was once unheard of to have Web access on your mobile device not even 10 years ago, better yet it wasn’t even common 5 years ago. Now people are so hooked on the ability to have fingertip access to anything on the Web. It is amazing how in touch one individual can be with what is going on around the world that if you do not have this type of access one is most likely left out of the loop or one step behind the people who have such quick access. I have witnessed that now when I download an app on my iPhone I am asked if I would like to receive immediate notifications via SMS texting. To me this is amazing that not only did we think we have access at the click of a shortcut app, but now apps are doing the work for us and sending information directly to our mobile phones.

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