Two panel sessions exploring the growing linkages between travel/transport organisation and mobile phones in Africa were held at the African Studies Association biennial conference at Sussex University in September 2014, organised and chaired by Gina Porter from Durham University and sponsored by the DFID-funded Africa Community Access Programme.
The remarkable expansion of mobile phone networks in Africa is bringing a tangible new dimension of connectivity into transport and access equations on the ground: now-feasible interactions between virtual and physical mobility are helping to reshape access potential, even in many hitherto remote areas (especially where linked to the rapid uptake of transportation modes such as the motorcycle-taxi). Phones can cut travel costs and time, reducing the number of long, potentially hazardous road journeys on poor roads in badly maintained vehicles, in regions with among the world’s highest accident rates and where highway robbery and other types of harassment associated with travel may be widespread. Better distance management through phone use may be particularly closely associated with populations with very low disposable incomes, and/or whose physical mobility is limited, for instance by disability, infirmity, age or gender. A write-up of these sessions, by Gina, who will give the keynote Hoyle Lecture speech at next year’s RGS-IBG conference, follow.
Continue reading MOBILE PHONES, MOBILITY AND TRANSPORT IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Scot Le Vine, Jacek Pawlak and John Polak are inviting submissions to a TGRG-sponsored session entitled “What world do you live in? Blurred boundaries between physical and digital spaces”. This will take place at the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) Annual International Conference, 26-29 August 2014. See below for details.
Continue reading What world do you live in? Blurred boundaries between physical and digital spaces
In this fascinating talk at the RGS-IBG annual conference, Dr Gina Porter illustrates the impact of the ongoing developing world communications revolution on personal travel. Mobile phones are becoming ubiquitous worldwide and are transforming travel behaviours in ways that are little researched and often unexpected. Click below for fold to watch and listen to the talk in full.
Continue reading Transport impacts of mobile phones in Africa
It is well-known that mobile phones are having a large impact on people’s lives across the world in many, often subtle, ways. No where is this more pronounced than in Africa, where the sudden availability of mobiles is providing people access to communications for the first time.
One under-studied yet crucial impact is on transport. The following video and audio posts, taken with permission at a TGRG session during the RGS-IBG conference last week, illustrate the various impacts and dispose of the simplistic notion that mobiles simply reduce trips. Overall, they make transport more efficient, as explained by Imogen Bellwood-Howard: