According to the World Bank and African Development Bank report, there are over 650 million mobile users in Africa.
Isolated from myriad information communication technologies, rural youth in Namibia have turned to mobile phones to engage in social debates and access information.
Selma Alweendo is from Okaukamasheshe Village. On a late Sunday morning, Alweendo is already consumed up in her phone. At that moment, she projected all sorts of reactions-smiling, shaking her head in disbelief and humming while she scrolls through her phone.
A closer observation, she is compiling a text as she listens to a radio show on a youth commercial radio station. “There is an interesting show on radio. I am submitting my contribution via Facebook”, she said on Sunday.
“What else is there to do here in this village? This place is isolated from any other facilities. We have no computers, no television and no newspapers. But thanks to my mobile phone, in addition to phone calls and messaging, I am able to engage and create accounts on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter”, Alweendo added.
Alweendo is one of the many young people in rural areas socially excluded from many developments, including mainstream information means, who have turned to mobile phone to engage in social and national debates.
Alweendo justifies that there are a limited activities to engage in and rarely any modern facilities reach their village. “If I want a newspaper, I will have to travel about 20 kilometers to Oshakati
, the nearest town. In fact I have to spend about 40 Namibia dollars (about 4 U.S. dollars) to get to town. I would rather save that and spend it on airtime for data to browse”, she told Xinhua News.
With the airtime, Alweendo said that, she is able to do more on her cellphone as compared to having travelled to town. “I can even read the newspapers online. But internet is expensive in Namibia and slow here. One minute you are facebooking, and in a few seconds next thing you know you have ran out of credit”, she added.
“But if I run out of credit, I ask people I know to transfer me a minimal 2 Namibia dollars. Imagine if five people transfers me 2 Namibian dollars, it takes me far”, she giggles.
The rapid and increased use of mobile phones widely attributed to increasing connectivity and spread of network coverage across the country. Namibia has 99% mobile network coverage across the country, according the mobile service provider MTC’s website.
Tutaleni Asino, a scholar and educationalist at Penn State University during the e-learning conference held in Windhoek late May, said that mobile devices such as phones excite young people and encourage engagement. “Many people in Namibia do not have computers and even more do not have internet. On the other hand, just about every mobile phone these days can connect to the internet”, argued Asino.
Certainly, according to Asino, mobile devices have and are changing society whether we want to admit it or not.Further details