Africa has been called not just "mobile-first" but "mobile-only", and it's made the continent a hothouse for mobile innovations.
Most of Africans will never use a desktop, relying instead on information directly from their mobile phone (and not usually a smartphone). That information is increasingly plentiful and valuable, thanks to groups using phones in surprisingly effective, locally relevant ways.
- Data mapping - Dial HarassMap's number, type in a description and location of a harassing incident, and get an auto response with information about free local assistance (Egypt).
- Email via SMS - Gmail now lets users get their emails as SMS messages using any kind of phone and without a data connection (Nigeria).
- Birth registration - The Ugandan government and UNICEF partnered to allow mothers to officially and instantly register their baby's birth via text message, then pick up the birth certificate when they come in later for immunizations (Uganda).
- Monitoring product movement - The GAVI Alliance is modernizing healthcare by monitoring pharmaceuticals along the cold chain through phone-based apps (Tanzania).