Isaac M. Mbiti

Africa’s cell phone boom can’t trump dire need for schools, roads, power, water

Well%2C%20Senegal%2C%20Africa%20cropped.jpgSMU economist Isaac M. Mbiti has seen in his native Kenya how cell phone use in Africa is booming. The fast-growing use of cell phones in Africa — where many people lack the basic human necessities — has made headlines worldwide the past few years.

The surprising boom has led to widespread speculation — and hope — that cell phones could potentially transform the impoverished continent. Cell phones are making a difference, says Mbiti, but his latest research also reveals, however, that cell phones alone can’t drive development. Continue reading

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Boston Review: Africa Calling — Can mobile phones make a miracle?

Isaac%20Mbiti.jpg
SMU economist Isaac M. Mbiti has seen in his native Kenya how cell phone use in Africa is booming. He and Jenny C. Aker, Tufts University, wrote about the phenomenal growth of cell phones — and their impact — in the March/April 2010 issue of the Boston Review.

Cell phones can do only so much, say the researchers. Many Africans still struggle in poverty and still lack reliable electricity, clean drinking water, education or access to roads.

Continue reading

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