How Can Africa Benefit from Mobile Health?

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I think it's obvious if you start off of the premise and only 24% of Africa has electricity, yes the big cities do have electricity, but frankly even in the biggest cities, Lagos as an example, electricity supply is inconsistent, even in South Africa which for many years prided itself from the fact that they have un-interrupted flow of electricity has blackouts.

This is the case in most countries but for the exception of Botswana which is very well governed, well run and so forth. So, an interesting phenomenon happened probably 15 years ago, when mobile phones first started to get into the African firmament, and in fact it was interesting because I knew a professor of civil engineering in South Africa, who had been working in a mission hospital and he'd actually developed a water pump to get water from an outlying area into the mission hospital, where he took a standing bicycle.

Basically a bike on a stand, and he would get some young teenagers to pedal like hell, and they would pump water in, and that same idea was then utilized to pump electricity into little charging batteries for women, from prominently women as strangely as it sounds, you could go with a little mobile phone, to one of these women, see these two young boys pedaling like crazy, and your phone could get charged for a few cents.

Well, the equivalent of a few American cents. But what was interesting in the mobile area was that, it leapfrogged a whole generation of technology and certainly landlines. In most African countries you either have to bribe or wait an inordinate amount of time to get a landline. And so when the first mobile phone started coming in their was an almost an immediate pick up in Africa, for being able to communicate and of course being a very oral culture as it is, that's not to say that there is no written culture or intellectuals in the academic culture, but being an oral culture it also allowed for the first time in many incidences in major African agglomerations of people to communicate with each other, and then of course once the text messaging element started that too became an issue.