The Guardian today has an interesting report on the global penetration of mobile telephony and broadband internet (‘Africa calling: mobile phone usage sees record rise after huge investment‘). Perhaps the most striking statistic is that ‘[o]n average there are now 60 mobile subscriptions for every 100 people in the world’. However, it is also worth noting the phenomenal growth of mobile phone usage in Africa (550% in the last 5 years). It is worth highlighting the services that are made available through mobile phones in the developing world:
Popular mobile services include money transfers, allowing people without bank accounts to send money by text message. Many farmers use mobiles to trade and check market prices.
Elsewhere I have written about the way in which communications infrastructures are constitutive of contemporary urbanised ways of life. These figures – and the manner in which mobile phones have become integral to accessing vital services – reaffirm this point.
What is interesting, however, is the manner in which the mobile phone is a flexible, rather than static, infrastructure. (more…)