Your coverage of the ITU telecom 2004 forum in Cairo last May (African Business May 2004) was really fascinating, but it still left me with one question that I have been musing over since the start of Africa's 'mobile revolution'. As Bianca Wright writes: "It is vital that Telecom Africa 2004 focus on the reality of telecommunications in Africa rather than the hype."
The question that I have been asking myself--and anyone else that cared to listen to me over the past five or six years since the mobile revolution took off in Africa--is: How many of us really need this modern-day miracle?
If I was a top-level businessman (rather than the mid-level manager I am in reality) there might be an argument for owning and using a mobile phone.
But for me, the only reason that I need a mobile phone is because my wife insists I need one! That way she can phone me during the working day and ask me to pick up some last-minute provisions from the market on my way home; or if I am late home of an evening, phone to quiz me on my whereabouts. In this way, my mobile phone is convenient, especially for my wife, but not really a necessity.
It is a similar situation with my 20-year-old daughter and her 18-year-old brother--they both became mobile phone users after pestering my wife and me for over a year to buy them handsets.
My wife was all in favour of them joining the mobile revolution as she argues that mobile phones contribute to our children's safety--if ever they are in trouble they can phone for help. I suppose that is quite a good argument, but increasingly the street robbers here in Kampala are targeting citizens...