Volunteers excepted, Instant messaging based on PCs has limited
application for the public at large in many countries in the developing
world when compared to the use of equivalent applications associated
with hand held devices.

These include mobile phones with microbrowsers or more likely SMS and/or
voice over mobile telephony. While the latter two apps would not permit
the point and click utility that you have programmed into the instant
messaging application, it would be very useful nevertheless (and I
presume point and click could also be implemented using microbrowsers).

Let me reiterate the importance of SMS and mobile tepephony here in
Botswana. In May there were 332,000 mobile phones in Botswana  and about
150,000 land lines for a population of close to 1.7 million people.

Just today I learned that as of Sept. 02, there are exactly 367,254 cell
phone users in Botswana. A stunning increase of about 35,000 over a few
months. In all, it is estimated that there are 65,000 PCs in Botswana,
and most of these are in the urban areas and in schools (every one of
the 250 secondary schools in the country for example). Could it be that
mobile phones diffuse sufficiently in countries like Botswana such that
we can start talking about universal service and not just universal

Guido, write apps for handhelds... Consider their use for enabling
access to info of local import: local and regional market info, weather,
account enquiries with banks and utilities, breaking news, local stock
market quotes, etc.

When the number of community access centres achieves a penetration
similar to that of mobile phones (on a public access basis), consider
Instant Messaging as well (there are virtually no community access
centres in Botswana, although this is set to change very quickly).

Richard Labelle
Consultant, UNDP, Gaborone, Botswana Human 
Development Report 2002-03 (Science and tech. for human 

Guido Sohne wrote:

> Instant messaging does not have to solely be limited to use of widely
> distributed chat clients. I wrote an application earlier this year
> that utilized instant messaging technology but worked by embedding the
> technology into the application itself.
> The business case was to improve the situation of businesses trying to
> source scarce foreign exchange in an economy where the telephone
> system was quite bad, making it a pain to comb several commercial
> banks and forex bureaux looking for foreign exchange. Calling eight
> banks could easily take the whole afternoon, and foreign exchange,
> especially in large quantities, can often take a long time to source.
> The answer was to create an application that published foreign
> exchange rates, allowing banks and forex bureaux to publish their own
> rates. Users could click on a price and chat with the person who set
> the price. In addition, due to the use of store and forward
> technology, disconnecting from the network and later reconnecting to
> the network resulted in all price updates being received in such a
> manner that each party using the system would see up to date prices in
> all the major currencies.
> This may not necessarily be instant messaging work with volunteers,
> but I think that it is interesting all the same and wanted to share it
> with others, especially since I was the one who wrote the application,
> so it was a labour of love.

***GKD is solely supported by EDC, a Non-Profit Organization***
To post a message, send it to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to:
<[EMAIL PROTECTED]>. In the 1st line of the message type:
subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd
Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at:

Reply via email to