Can Africa’s Mobile Phones And Maps Usher In A Governance Revolution?

Michael Keller | Txchologist | December 10, 2013

For crime victims in the Kenyan town of Lamet Umoja, where before there was silence, now there is Twitter. 

The village’s police chief, Francis Kariuki, realized some time ago that he could use the microblogging site as an instant way to blast critical messages to citizens. He posts information about child abductions, stolen livestock and active criminal activity as he gets it. As this story was being written, for example, he sent out the description of a man who went missing midday on Dec. 10. “Disappeared from home at around 1pm. If seen around please inform me,” he tweeted. 

Kariuki’s efforts are just one example of the rapidly expanding adoption of mobile communication and information technologies to overcome stubborn governance problems across Sub-Saharan Africa. Officials, members of civil society and ordinary citizens are being motivated to deploy these tactics as workarounds for a lack of basic government services and infrastructure.