SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa

2/6/2010 | Christian Kreutz

The new opportunity to have activism through mobile phones is fascinating. I  have already often written about it. A while ago Sokari Enkine asked me to write a chapter for a recent published book funded by Hivos. I wrote about future trends and software developments, and then blogged about some possible trends and got some interesting feedback to use in the article.

I have also had some inspiring discussions with Ken Banks and Patrick Meier, resulting these in the coming up of some scenarios such as a growth in local mobile innovation in Africa. If we look at the topics and the discussion of the latest Mobile Web East Africa conference, we are witnessing a fascinating rise of creative mobile programming.

The Guardian wrote a nice review of the book and, although I also wrote about different types challenges too, the author Anne Perkins rated me as an optimist – I can live with that.

The trouble with people who know about mobile phone technology is that they are a lot better at good ideas than they are at explaining to non-techies what their good ideas are for. So I fell upon SMS Uprising: Mobile activism in Africa, a collection of essays by people who either write mobile applications or transfer them to the field, hoping that at last I would understand not so much what's going on as how.

SMS doesn't always work (sometimes texts are just too slow). But this is a handbook for the small NGO or social change activist who is daunted by technology. Help is at hand, and SMS Uprising will help you find it.

I hope the little introduction has made you enough curious by now! You can order the book directly at Fahamu or at other book sellers for around 15$.

Table of content:

  • Introduction Sokari Ekine

Part I: The context

  1. Economics and power within the African telecommunications industry Nathan Eagle
  2. Mobile activism in Africa: future trends and software developments Christian Kreutz
  3. Social mobile: empowering the many or the few? Ken Banks
  4. Mobiles in-a-box: developing a toolkit with grassroots human rights advocates Tanya Notley and Becky Faith

Part II: Mobile democracy: SMS case studies

  1. Fahamu: using cell phones in an activist campaign Redante Asuncion-Reed
  2. The UmNyango project: using SMS for political participation in rural KwaZulu Natal Anil Naidoo
  3. Kubatana in Zimbabwe: mobile phones for advocacy Amanda Atwood
  4. Women in Uganda: mobile activism for networking and advocacy Berna Ngolobe
  5. Mobile telephony: closing the gap Christiana Charles-Iyoha
  6. Digitally networked technology in Kenya's 2007–08 post-election crisis Joshua Goldstein and Juliana Rotich
  7. Using mobile phones for monitoring human rights violations in the DRC Bukeni Waruzi