#TFBloggers: We’re on the Move

So, this afternoon I’ll get the train to London, before heading for Uganda with Tearfund tomorrow… Although I’ve travelled extensively, including to some pretty poor countries, I’ve not made it to Africa before (closest is Egypt) and most of my knowledge of Africa is from the odd film – mainly Africa UnitedAfrica United

I’m notorious for not getting round to reading my travel guides until after I’ve been somewhere – preferring to rely upon suggestions from others (easy these days on social media)…

I think part of my reason is that I like to experience the culture ‘fresh’ – how do experience it, rather than through a “critics” eyes, but on the other hand it’s good to be prepared – to know what to expect, and to build on the knowledge of others for recommendations as to good places to visit – and I can become a bit of a “tick box tourist” – take a photo and move on…

For this particular trip, we’ve had a cultural orientation day, and our time will be pretty much full .. but I have picked up a 2004 Bradt Travel Guide to 2004 and a long plane journey might give me an opportunity for a proper look…  and I’ve had a bit of a look on Lonely Planet: Uganda… but this is really going to be my favourite kind of trip – being shown around by the people who live there, and are in the know… and in this case, are keen to share with us their journey!

Mobiles in Africa? #TFBloggers

I’ve often said in training sessions – look at Africa as an example of how mobile/digital devices have changed lives – in a world where the infrastructure for fixed lines was never possible, the mobile functions without the same physical barriers.

In 2007, President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, said: “In 10 short years, what was once an object of luxury and privilege, the mobile phone, has become a basic necessity in Africa.” CNN News

The article goes on to identify 7 ways in which mobile has changed life in Africa:

  1. Banking: Mobile money rather than banking infrastructure
  2. Activism: Disenchanted citizens can engage, and in some areas, is encouraging increasing openness/transparency.
  3. Education: Mobile phones are cheaper to own/run than PCs, and allow access to kids that would otherwise get no education.
  4. Entertainment: The most popular activity – including music, films and social networking
  5. Disaster Management: Innovative use in refugee camps, allowing families to reconnect
  6. Agriculture: Multiple small farms, now gaining access to weather reports, market prices and access to micro-insurance schemes – enabling them to make better decisions, whilst sharing tips with each other.
  7. Health: Discovery of healthcare providers, provision of tips, reminders of Drs appointment – and hugely important – SMS codes used to reduce the number of fraudulent drugs circulated.

So, in the areas we go to, is mobile use growing, and how is it changing people’s lives if so? If not, is digital having impact in other ways?