SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa

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Fahamu/Pambazuka, Jan 30, 2010 - Business & Economics - 149 pages
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SMS Uprising provides a unique insight into how activists and social change advocates are addressing Africa's many challenges from within, and how they are using mobile telephone technologies to facilitate these changes.

This collection of essays by those engaged in using mobile phone technologies for social change provides an analysis of the socio-economic, political and media contexts faced by activists in Africa today. The essays address a broad range of issues including inequalities in access to technology based on gender, rural and urban usage, as well as offering practical examples of how activists are using mobile technology to organise and document their experiences. They provide an overview of the lessons learned in making effective use of mobile phone technologies without any of the romanticism so often associated with the use of new technologies for social change. The examples are shared in a way that makes them easy to replicate – 'Try this idea in your campaign.' The intention is that the experiences described within the book will lead to greater reflection about the real potential and limitations of mobile technologies.

Edited by Nigerian activist Sokari Ekine, who runs the prize-winning blog Black Looks, the book brings together some of the best known and experienced developers and users of mobile phone technologies in Africa, including Juliana Rotich from Ushahidi in Kenya, Ken Banks of, and Berna Ngolobe of WOUGNET in Uganda.

Contributors: Nathan Eagle, Ken Banks, Redante Asuncion-Reed, Anil Naidoo, Amanda Atwood, Christiana Charles-Iyoha, Becky Faith, Joshua Goldstein, Christian Kreutz, Tanya Notley, Juliana Rotich, Berna Twanza Ngolobe, Bukeni Waruzi

'This is a handbook for the small NGO or social change activist who is daunted by technology. Help is at hand, and SMS Uprising will help you find it'
The Guardian (3 February 2010)

'I put this book down with deep, deep respect. This is a positive book, a book that adds to my personal belief that indigenous peoples will ultimately triumph as they receive and use tools such as mobile telephones'
Public Intelligence Blog (20 February 2010)

'The book is ... unique in giving an insight into how activists and social change advocates are addressing Africa's many challenges from within, and how they are using mobile telephone technology to facilitate these changes' (10 February 2010)

'SMS Uprising combines theoretical groundwork and practical case studies useful to everyone interested in the use of mobile technology for activism and development'
DigiActive (5 February 2010)

'SMS Uprising targets a broad audience, and it includes an accessible and often inspiring collection of practitioner accounts, as well as guidelines for practice and reflection.'
Information Technologies & International Development (Summer 2011)

If you're an African non-governmental organisation of limited funds, please email to arrange a complimentary copy of this ebook (Adobe PDF).

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Selected pages


Economics and power within the African telecommunications industry
Mobile activism in Africa future trends and software developments
Social mobile empowering the many or the few?
Mobiles inabox developing a toolkit with grassroots human rights advocates
Mobile democracy SMS case studies
Fahamu using cell phones in an activist campaign
The UmNyango project using SMS for political participation in rural KwaZulu Natal
Kubatana in Zimbabwe mobile phones for advocacy
Women in Uganda mobile activism for networking and advocacy
Mobile telephony closing the gap
Digitally networked technology in Kenyas 200708 postelection crisis
Using mobile phones for monitoring human rights violations in the DRC

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Sokari Ekine is a Nigerian activist with a background in technology, education, and human rights. She has worked in adult education and for several online publications, including Pambazuka News. She is the author of the blog Black Looks.