---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Amit Kapoor <>
Date: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 5:09 AM
Subject: [Wmfcc-l] TechCrunch: $50 Android Smartphones Are Disrupting
Africa Much Faster Than You Think, Says Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales
To: Communications Committee <>

$50 Android Smartphones Are Disrupting Africa Much Faster Than You Think,
Says Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales

What phone does Wikipedia <> founder
Jimmy Wales have in his pocket? An unlocked Android-powered 3G smartphone,
made by Chinese mobile maker Huawei – which was selling for $85 on the
streets of Kenya last year and now goes for $50.

While the majority of Africa’s mobile phones are more basic talk-plus-text
feature phones — recent figures from analyst ABI
3G connectivity accounts for 11 percent of the continent’s overall mobile
subscriptions vs. GSM’s 62.7 percent – 300,000 of these $50 Android
smartphones have been sold in Kenya, according to Wales and African carrier
Safaricom’s CEO Bob Collymore. The pair were speaking at Vodafone’s Mobile
for Good summit taking place in London today.

“What I always thought about mobile in Africa…is this [smartphone adoption]
is coming in the future — in the future someday,” said Wales. “Well the
someday’s happening faster than I ever realised.”

Wales’ own budget Android was brought back from Kenya by a friend and is
now his personal smartphone. “The screen is a little smaller than the
iPhone, it’s not quite as good but the battery lasts two days,” he joked.

The Wikipedia founder has been spending the past couple of years
working on Wikipedia
Zero <> – a project that’s
aiming to broaden access to the online encyclopedia to those who don’t own
a computer or can’t get access to 3G mobile data – but he says the pace of
smartphone adoption in Africa is changing the digital landscape of the
continent much faster than people think.

The pace caught Wikipedia by surprise. The not-for-profit organisation had
been focusing its emerging markets’ efforts on India but is now paying a
lot more attention to Africa, thanks to the growth in ownership of cheap,
Android-powered handsets — like the one in Wales’ pocket.

“This phone actually woke my mind up,” said Wales, pulling the handset out
of his pocket and holding it up. “This is what really got me energised to
say let’s go back and take another look at Africa, because we had focused
most of our attention on India with the view that it was ready for us to do

“If you go and you take a look at the numbers [of smartphone adoption in
Africa]… the upward trend — obviously it’s still a very small penetration –
but that upward trend is there really strongly. If you look at the total
bandwidth into Nigeria, for example, it’s skyrocketing.

“Things that are very hard for us to all imagine are going to happen much
faster than we realise,” he added. “People are going to be coming online
for the first time. There’s this vibrant community of young app developers
growing in Kenya and Nigeria.

“It’s mind-boggling to think what the possibilities are — and I’m super
excited about it.”

Amit Kapoor
Mobile Partnerships
Wikimedia Foundation

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