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  • 1. Week 11 Presentation CASE STUDY:The Social and Economic Implications of Mobile Telephony in Rwanda: An Ownership/Access Typology Jonathan Donner By Tani Crotty
  • 2. Key concepts Four categories of telephony ownership & access in Rwanda:  Private phone owners – landline and/or mobile handset  New mobile-only owners  Public phone users  Telephone non-users Benefits of telecommunications to communities:  Economic  Social  Collective community (health)
  • 3. Benefits of mobile telephony adoption Economic  Pre-pay plans allow users the affordability without locked in contracts – many lack basics of bank account or mail service to receive bills  Save on international calls, consistently lower rates than landlines  Trade between rural and urban markets – rural farmers can cut travel costs by staying in touch with markets via text msg, reduces the bargaining power of the middleman  Business owners have direct contact with clients – eg. taking bookings for food orders, hair services, car maintenance etc
  • 4. Benefits of mobile telephony adoptionVideo examples:„The Maasai Go Mobile‟„Hello Africa‟
  • 5. Benefits of mobile telephony adoption Social Frequent connection with family and friends – increased mobile connection versus face to face connection  Helps maintain family relationships – eg. Many families are split pursuing business opportunities elsewhere  Allows ability to maximise social connection with minimal cost – „beeping‟ (prank call), „phatic communication‟, inclusion of non-mobile users (beep from pay phone)
  • 6. Benefits of mobile telephony adoption Collective community  Health – development of a telecommunications system between central urban hospitals and rural clinics to support the treatment of HIV/AIDS saving livings • South Africa – using text messages to coordinate patient care • Uganda – using wireless enabled PDAs to provide information to rural caregivers
  • 7. Community perceptions Overall benefits of mobiles Increased social status, affluence Security Constant contact – business and family Increased mobilityInteresting further reading:David Morley (2011) – Mobility of technology & the notion of „placelessness‟“we all now live in a new cyber world of „placelessness‟, where material geography counts for verylittle as a determinant of social or cultural life”
  • 8. Continuing Issues in Rwanda Mobile theft Telecommunication services limited – mobile signal availability – initially huge disparity across Africa but in recent years has improve Cost Socio economic factors – still a great divide between urban and rural
  • 9. Africa & mobile use In 1999, 10 percent of the African population had mobile phone coverage Today over 70% of the population has mobile phone coverage – fasted growing mobile use adoption in the world (60% use mobiles for social media and other internet services) This high level of adoption appears to be correlated with the poor quality of landline services – fewer than 3 landline services per 100 people  eg. Kenyan firms reported an average of 36 days of interrupted landline service per year, with interruptions lasting an average of 37 hours. Employment, „m-banking‟, environment shocks (affecting planting and yields) Source: Aker & Mbiti (2010)
  • 10. A cultural comparison Indigenous Australians & phone use  Indigenous people have more access to mobile phones over any other digital technology (despite than high cost)  More females than males have mobile phones in Aust (Rwanda – more males than females)  Shared amongst households & families (communal activity)  Strong social benefits:  Connect with family and friends – high priority  Multimedia applications – music, videos & photos (esp. when out of credit + the creation of videos/photos in communities)  Text messaging – however not a significant reason to purchase (perhaps due to low literacy levels)  Emergencies – especially important in remote communities  Economic benefits: eg. for work = nil  Valued literacy / educational tool:  Multimodal capabilities of mobile phones supplement limited print literary resources/ lack of education facilities in remote locations Source: Auld et al (2012)
  • 11. Coverage comparison1 billion people 22,769,193 people
  • 12. Summary: Trends in mobile use Rwanda/Africa (1999-2012) Australia (2010-11) Mobile phone coverage/usage  Mobile phone usage increased by 226 increased from 10% to 70% of per cent in 1 year population  # of Australians living in households without a fixed-line telephone service Majority of mobile users are mobile- increased by 17 per cent to reach 2.7 only users million  96 per cent of Australians aged 18–34 Rapid decrease in landline use – years used a mobile phone due to poor infrastructure and  Volume SMS and multimedia messages exponential growth of mobile sent increased by 23 per cent to reach coverage in Africa 36.3 billion  # of payphones in operation in Australia Main uses – work/business, decreased by five per cent to 33,201 family/friend connection and social media Disparity between urban and remote usage remain on par
  • 13. Discussion How many people own landlines or live in a house with a landline? Why do you have a landline? When was the last time you used a landline? Has anyone not used a landline? When was the last time you used a payphone? Why? How old were you when you got your first mobile phone? What are the main uses of your mobile phone?„iDisorder‟ Dr Larry Rosen
  • 14. References Aker, J and Mbiti, I.M. 2010, „Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa‟, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 24, Number 3, Summer 2010, pp.207–232, accessed 30 September 2012, ‘Assignment Rwanda: Using Mobiles to Combat AIDS’, 2008, television program, Telecom TV, 24 September, Auld, G, Snyder, I and Henderson, M 2012, „Using mobile phones as placed resources for literacy learning in a remote Indigenous community in Australia‟, Language and Education, 26:4, pp.279-296, accessed 30 September 2012, <> ‘Communications Report 2010-11’, 2011, Australian Communications and Media Authority report, accessed 29 September 2012, Donner, J 2006, „The Social and Economic Implications of Mobile Telephony in Rwanda: An Ownership/Access Typology‟, Knowledge, Technology, & Policy, Summer 2006, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp.17–28. Donner, J 2007, „The Use of Mobile Phones by Microentrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda: Changes to Social and Business Networks‟, Information Technologies and International Development, Volume 3, Number 2, Winter 2006, pp.3–19. ‘Family, Kinship and Community’, 2008, Australian Bureau of Statistics, accessed 29 September 2012,,%20kinship%20and%20community~247 ‘Hello Africa - Mobile Phone Culture in Africa’, 2011, documentary, Information and Technologies for Development, Komolafe, K 2012, „Hillary Clinton talks #genocideprevention through social media‟, McClatchy Newspapers online, 24 July, accessed 30 September 2012, Morley, D 2011. „Communications and transport: The mobility of information, people and commodities‟, Media Culture Society 2011 33: 743, accessed online 20 September 2012, ‘The Maasai Go Mobile - An African Journey With Jonathan Dimbleby - BBC Two’, 2010, television program, BBC Two, 3 June, <>