In Africa, mobile technology has followed a different path and approach that are changing lives and contributing to the education of a lot of people. Because computers are so expensive, affordable mobile phones have become the ubiquitous form of communication.

Between 2003 and 2008, Africa had the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world. On average, more than one-third of the African population has a mobile plan, with some areas reaching almost two-thirds market penetration.

The following technologies have played important roles on the continent.

Cell-Life Aftercare, a joint project between the University of Cape Town and Peninsula University of Technology, can remotely monitor 15 to 20 patients per heath care worker, provide supplemental medical information and relay information back to a central database all via mobile technology.

MXIt, a mobile messaging and social networking client, reaches 40% of South Africa’s population according to a company spokesperson, and has teamed up with scores of organizations to provide educational information on everything from mathematics to driving instructions.

“m-novels,” aims to provide mobile-formatted novels to fiction-hungry teens.

Esoko is an agricultural market information platform. It is a response to the explosive growth of cellular services in Africa. The Esoko platform provides automatic and personalized price alerts, buy and sell offers, bulk SMS messaging, stock counts and SMS polling.

In Ethiopia, people can call a confidential hotline anonymously with HIV-related queries.

In Nigeria, UNICEF is using text messages to track the distribution of some 63 million mosquito nets.

Health check-up by text message – In a pilot programme, community health workers in Kenya are using mobile phone text messages to check on people living with HIV as a substitute for home visits.

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