Mobile phones are no longer a preserve for the elite class in society. Almost everyone owns one (in Ghana even the poor has two or more). Cell phones are now part of people’s lives. Life without a mobile phone is like life without oxygen, an electrical appliance without electricity, the world without light or a football match without a ball.
The International Telecommunication Union estimated that about four billion cellular phone subscriptions would be recorded at end of 2008 worldwide. About 50 million people own mobile phones in Africa. Out of this number 15 million do not have access to their own television at home.
Mobile phones have shrunk the world into a small village. In the past people had to queue at post offices (at least I know of Africa) to make international calls to friends and relatives abroad. It took days and weeks to travel to family and friends in nearby villages to deliver messages that lasted for less than half an hour when phones were not in existence. Today the situation is totally different. Mobile phones have made it possible to connect to people from anywhere to everywhere.
Mobile phones are now sources of news. Almost all the latest phones in town come with internet facility that enables the user to follow news updates as well as check emails. “With the right phone, some calling credits and a good internet connection, a journalist can file an entire video report. In situations where there is no internet connection we can still rely on our mobile phones to file an entire story (text), send short videos and pictures of abuse of media personnel,” I remember telling a group of 16 West African journalists at a new media and rights reporting workshop.
Cell phones are more or less computers in your pocket or palm. Some have Microsoft Office – MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access among others – while others have web based social networking applications such as Myspace, fring, skype, nimbuzz, twitter, facebook etc.
With mobile phones and other electronic devices you can now automate your house – switching off lights, putting on security alarms and locking house doors right from your phone within certain distance.
While researching on the internet for this blog post, I bumped into this interesting news: The trials and tribulations of searching for the nearest public toilet have been eliminated in Japan – with the launch of mobile phone software guiding users to the nearest lavatories. The Check A Toilet programme, created by the software company Access Co, enables mobile phone users to search for maps highlighting the nearest public lavatory to their location.
What else did I miss? Yes…are you also one of those who tell people on your mobile phone that you are where you are not when they are waiting for you for meetings? Can you live without your mobile phone?