Article written

  • on 06.08.2014
  • at 02:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

What do Africans want? They’ll text you 0

Washington — The way to find out what Africans really want is to ask them, shows a recent mobile phone service led by ONE Africa and GeoPoll.

Africa has too long been portrayed in sweeping generalizations, often about hardship and tragedy. In reality, the continent is a sprawling, diverse, and fast-moving place — home to 55 countries, hundreds of languages, one-sixth of the world’s population, and seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world.

As dozens of African heads of state come to Washington this week for the first U.S.-African Leaders Summit, they are discussing macro issues like trade, security, and investment. But what do the nearly one billion African people want out of the summit? What are their top everyday concerns? How do they want their leaders to approach solutions to some of the continent’s thorniest problems, such as extreme poverty, preventable disease, and governance?

The best way to answer these questions is to simply ask. But how do you reach people across cities, villages, and neighborhoods, where electricity is virtually nonexistent and the Internet is an afterthought?

The answer is the basic mobile phone. More than 600 million Africans own a mobile phone, and they are being used for everything from sending money to monitoring weather patterns. With the right infrastructure, phones can also be used to ask people questions, through surveys run on basic SMS technology. This is an incredible opportunity to hear from millions of people whose voices are making it to the world stage for the first time.

That’s why our organizations, The ONE Campaign and GeoPoll, polled a representative sample of citizens in nine countries in advance of the African Leaders Summit. We wanted to find out if the priorities of the people align with those of their leaders.

continue reading on allAfrica

By Sipho Moyo and James Eberhard – allAfrica

Photo credit: Mamaye!

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi