Written by Russell Southwood and published by Manchester University Press, “Africa 2.0 – Inside a Continent’s Communications Revolution” is a book about the ambitious 35-year history of the impact of mobile and the internet on Sub-Saharan Africa.
It starts with the launch of Miko Rwayitare and Joe Gatt’s Telecel in 1986 in what was then Zaire (now DRC) and comes right up to date with the development of Africa’s digital life and digitally-based start-ups. It covers both the positive (the spread of mobile calling and mobile internet) and the negative (corruption and things like ‘hustle’ culture around start-ups).
Although it’s a book that contains ideas about why things happened the way they did, it’s very much a set of human stories. It’s based on 137 original interviews with people who were there when things happened.
The impact of mobile calling and internet on Sub-Saharan Africa is arguably one of the biggest economic and social development stories of the last two decades. Too much technology writing is in the ‘future perfect sense.’ There is an over urgent sense that something is going to happen ‘real soon now’. If you work in the industry or are just interested in it, the book provides a view of the past before turning toward what the future might hold.
Chapters cover: the rise of mobile calling; bandwidth as the digital economy’s fuel; mobile internet, handsets and apps; mobile money; African digital life; digital’s impact on development; industry corruption, start-ups addressing profound market challenges and doing complexity: making sense of what happened. The book refers to 43 of the 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Its author Russell Southwood is a long-standing industry analyst of Sub-Saharan communications markets and founded his consultancy and research company Balancing Act 22 years ago.
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