Mobile Networks have become a key asset for african development. For instance, people have more access to mobile than water and energy. Many Internation development organizations and private sector companies are currently trying to take advantage of this situation in their work for improving underserved people’s life.
In Africa, I think one of the most important actors in mobile for development issues that are not enough getting engaged in their role are Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). I was recently told a pretty astounding story about the major MNO in my homeland, Togo. Well, the operator has successfully deployed 3G technology on his network and this is obviously laudable. Curiously, alongside with deploying the 3G technology, the operator precluded some communication services such as Viber and Kik. Seemingly, they think that these “free” apps can discourage people to pay for SMS or calls. I found it somehow silly. People might not be paying for SMS or calls but I am convinced that access to 3G services is not going to be free.
I think this MNO is missing something and I wonder what can be its reaction vis a vis mobile for development initiatives and other services like Frontline SMS. Assuredly, there is a lot to do to make MNOs more engaged in development initiaitves. Simply because they are the major actors in mobile for development issues.