2.4. Mobile Africa


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Guest lecture by Kristin Lexander, Media & Politics, Lillehammer UNiversity College

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2.4. Mobile Africa

  1. 1. MOBILE AFRICA – IDENTITY, EMPOWERMENT Media and Politics, HiL 12. sept. 2013 Kristin Vold Lexander
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION “Mobile phones have enabled friends and families to stay in touch over long distances, creating new forms of connectedness; farmers are now able to contact markets ahead of time to inquire about prices for their produce; traders order stock from their suppliers on the phone, cutting down on travel costs; hospitals send medication reminders to out-patients; sex-workers contact and warn one another about dangerous clients. In addition, the diffusion of mobile phones has created novel employment opportunities, including phone repair shops, airtime vendors and informal phone-for-hire businesses” (Deumert&Lexander 2013)
  3. 3. OVERVIEW Introductory questions Mobile Africa – facts and figures Empowerment – definition, results from different studies Identity – results from the Senegal study: 1. 2. 3. 4.     Presentation of the study What is identity? Identity construction and expressions in SMS messages African language literacy -> empowerment?
  4. 4. INTRODUCTORY QUESTIONS 1. 2. 3. Is the mobile phone leading to empowerment? Who are empowered and how? How is mobile phone use related to young Africans‟ identity construction? Has the mobile phone had greater impact on people‟s lives in Africa than in Europe?
  5. 5. MOBILE AFRICA – FACTS AND FIGURES The population of Africa: > 1 billion  Mobile phone subscriptions in Africa: 63,5 per 100 inhabitants (2005: 12,4)  Mobile phone subscriptions in Europe: 126,5 per 100 inhabitants (2005: 91,7) 
  6. 6. The Digital divide perspective: The divide created between those individuals, firms, institutions, regions, and societies that have the material and cultural conditions to operate in the digital world, and those who cannot, or cannot adapt to the speed of change (Castells 2001: 270). The leapfrog perspective: developing countries skip the fixed-line technology of the 20th century and move straight to the mobile technology of the 21st.
  7. 7. ACCESS TO FIXED-LINE AND MOBILE TELEPHONY, PER HUNDRED INHABITANTS (ITU DATA, WWW.ITU.INT) Fixed line tel. Mobile tel. (subscriptions ) (subscriptions ) 2005 2011 2005 2011 Côte d’Ivoire 1.43 1.33 13.04 86.42 Ghana 1.49 1.14 13.28 84.78 Nigeria 0.87 0.44 13.29 58.58 Senegal 2.45 2.71 15.91 73.27 South Africa 9.89 8.18 71.06 126.83 (From Deumert&Lexander 2013)
  8. 8. FACTS AND FIGURES Countries with low coverage: Eritrea and Somalia: < 10 % Ethiopia and Burundi: ca. 15% Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo: ca. 25%
  9. 9. EMPOWERMENT “An iterative process in which a person who lacks power sets a personally meaningful goal oriented toward increasing power, takes action toward that goal, and observes and reflects on the impact of this action, drawing on his or her evolving selfefficacy, knowledge, and competence related to the goal.” Cattaneo, Lauren Bennett; Chapman, Aliya R. 2010: The process of empowerment: A model for use in research and practice. American Psychologist, Vol 65(7), 646-659.
  10. 10. RESULTS FROM DIFFERENT STUDIES ON MOBILE PHONE USE IN AFRICA Getting a job and a status in the community (Tall 2002)  Operating freer but within the norms (Brinkman et al. 2009), weaker social control (Dibakana 2002)  Selling farm products more easily (Kibora 2009)  News and information circulate faster (Kreutz 2010)  Convergence with other media (internet, radio) (Kreutz 2010)  NGO software has improved rural healthcare, political discussion, banking transactions (FrontlineSMS, Banks 2010, M-Pesa 
  11. 11. BUT… The poorest are increasingly marginalized when they do not have a mobile phone (Overå 2008)  Confidence in commercial relations is weakened (Molony 2009)  ”Breaking up because of the phone” (Archambault 2011)  SMS campaigns may replace more appropriate forms of communication (Kreutz 2010)  Text messages fuelled the violence that followed the Kenyan elections in 2007 (see Etzo&Collender)  The mobile phone is only a tool, it does not change power relations or stop oppression (Molony 2009)  The use of the mobile phone is often only social, not related to economic goals (Molony 2008, Brinkman et al. 2009) 
  12. 12.  Is the mobile phone leading to empowerment? Who are empowered and how?
  13. 13. SMS STUDY IN SENEGAL French - official langauge African languages – spoken languages (Wolof, Pulaar) Arabic – religious language English – Amercian, young Spanish – ”telenovelas” Urban Wolof – mixed language How are African languages used in text messages and how does this influence their status as written languages?
  14. 14. METHODS 15 informants 500 text messages (phtographs) 30 e-mails 10 instant messaging conversations Interviews and observation
  15. 15. QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS I LANGUAGE CHOICES IN THE SMS (N=450) 0% 1% 2% 1% 1% 1% 2% French French&Wolof 5% 4% French & English French & Wolof & Arabic 6% 47% French & Wolof & English French & Arabic 30% French & Wolof & English & Spanish Wolof Wolof & Arabic Wolof & English Pulaar Pulaar & other languages
  16. 16. QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS II TOPICS OF THE SMS (N=450) 2% 1% Greeting religious feast 1% Greeting non religious occasion 8% 18% Greeting without occasion 8% Personal information 4% Professional/study information Romantic messages 17% 15% Different announcements Arrange a meeting Funny messages 10% 16% Chain messages Others
  17. 17. IDENTITY Identity is elaborated during interaction – talking identities - through co-construction and co-articulation (Androutsopoulos&Georgakopoulou 2003)  Acts of identity (Le Page&Tabouret-Keller 1985) – talking is invitation, asking for solidarity 
  18. 18. ETHNIC IDENTITY „Me too, I miss you, my dear little sister and my loved one. I do not stop and I will not stop thinking of you.‟
  19. 19. PLAYING ON DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF IDENTITY ’Thanks queen, I miss you a lot, have you started the classes, are you staying on campus, I miss you, where is your love, is he lost in the traffic, next.‟
  20. 20. RELIGIOUS IDENTITY Peace. I wish you get well soon. May God give you peace and good health. Amen.
  21. 21. GLOBAL RESOURCES – LOCAL IDENTITIES ‟Hi! Forgive me my sins, I have forgiven you. May God forgive us!‟ Texters draw on global and local linguistic resources in crafting their messages. Use of English is a marker of youth identity.
  22. 22. ”SOMEBODY THAT SHOULD BE LISTENED TO” Je vois maintenant que tu m’as complètement abandonné, tu ne penses même plus à m’appeler. Pourtant « DARA JARU KO FI » NDAXTE NAG », je reste et resterai toujours PAPA. MERCI. „I see now that you‟ve left me completely, you don‟t even think of calling me any more. Still, it doesn‟t matter because I am and always will be Papa. Thank you‟.
  23. 23. URBAN IDENTITY – THE EMERGENCE OF A WRITTEN MIXED CODE Hi Mrs NN, so, what’s new? I seriously miss you!! How is your feast [marking the end of Ramadan]? Hey you, I was going to call you, but, you know, I didn‟t have the time, because my baby [boyfriend] is back, sticking out my tongue! I’ll call you, kiss
  24. 24. VALUES AND FUNCTIONS OF THE LANGUAGES: FRENCH AS THE ROMANTIC LANGUAGE, ”MAD LOVE” I can‟t sleep, cause you haunt my spirit... My honey [lit. flea], I‟ve never loved like I love you! You‟ve given me everything, I‟ve offered you everything, you are made for me, I will live for you, I love you, my darling.
  25. 25. ”COUPLE IDENTITY” AND ALTERNATION OF VOICES: THE ROMANTIC VOICE My present will dishonour my past, even more so my future, when it comes to my love for you. You, my heart, you, who make me want to travel, to succeed and make sure that you don’t miss anything. I love you.
  26. 26. EMPOWERMENT THROUGH AFRICAN LANGUAGES LITERACY? „Hello. Happy New Year. Be clement to me, forgive me, for all that is invisible and visible. May God accept [our worship]. Thank you.‟
  27. 27. OTHER MOTIVATIONS FOR SWITCHING LANGUAGES May Almighty God forgive us our sins, accept our fasting, may his grâce and his mercy be upon us. My mobile was not working. I will always love you, but you have to call me or send me messages.
  28. 28. 1. 2. 3. Is the mobile phone leading to empowerment? Who are empowered and how? How is mobile phone use related to young Africans‟ identity construction? Has the mobile phone had greater impact on people‟s lives in Africa than in Europe?
  29. 29. REFERENCES (IN ADDITION TO READING LIST) Archambault, Julie S. (2011) Breaking up Because of the Phone. New Media and Society 13 no. 3 444456. Brinkman, Inge, Mirjam de Bruijn and Hisham Bilal (2009) The Mobile Phone, ‟Modernity‟ and Change in Khartoum, Sudan, in de Bruijn et al. (eds.) : 69-91. Bruijn, Mirjam de, Francis Nyamnjoh and Inge Brinkman (eds.) (2009a) Mobile Phones: the new talking drums of everyday Africa, Bamenda (Cameroun)/Leiden, LANGAA/Africa Studies Centre. Castells, Manuel (2001) The Internet Galaxy: reflections on the Internet, business and society, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Deumert, Ana and Lexander, Kristin (2013) Texting Africa. Journal of Sociolinguistics. Dibakana, Jean-Aimé (2002) Usages sociaux du téléphone portable et nouvelles sociabilités au Congo, Politique Africaine, 85 : 133-150. Katz, James E. (ed.) (2008) Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, Londres, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press. Kibora, Ludovic (2009) Téléphonie mobile : l‟appropriation du SMS par une « société d‟oralité», in de Bruijn et al. (eds.) : 110-124. Molony, Thomas (2008) Nondevelopmental Uses of Mobile Communication in Tanzania, in Katz (ed.) : 339-352. Molony, Thomas (2009) Trading Places in Tanzania: mobility and marginalisation at time of travelsaving technologies, in de Bruijn et al. (eds.) : 92-109. Overå, Ragnhild (2008) Mobile Traders and Mobile Phones in Ghana, in Katz (ed.) : 43-54. Tall, Serigne Mansour (2002) Les émigrés sénégalais et les nouvelles technologies de l‟information et de la communication, in Diop, Momar Coumba (ed.) Le Sénégal à l’heure de l’information.