Africa’s Mobile Social Networks

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While Facebook is still preparing it supposedly multi-billion IPO (using the content that users have freely provided as proof of success), many people in the poorest developing countries (also in the multi-billion range but not as large as Facebook’s!) have still to log in into the most well-known social networks.

This fact has now become an opportunity for Africa to develop its own social networks by focusing on the use of mobile technologies rather than on the Internet itself. As this article suggests (http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/40250/?nlid=nldly&nld=2012-04-20), while Facebook is growing in the continent, strong competition from networks in Ghana, South Africa and Kenya, to mention a few, is emerging.

One of the key to the success of some of these networks is the availability of user-friendly development interfaces which allow many people with basic technical skills to quickly develop an app. The other important factor is that all of these new apps work in both smart and basic cell phones.It is also creating both new jobs and livelihoods thus supporting inclusive growth.

Here we have yet another example of innovation in the South and from the South. Can this, along with the new business models being created along the way, be replicated in other regions? I would think yes.

And we as UNDP can help here too.

Cheers, Raúl

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