Oct 2, 2010

Mobile Phones and Socio-Economic Development in Nigeria

Technology no doubt changes the way we do things. Mobile phone communication is without doubt one thing that has brought about an amazing social and economic revolution in the country since its advent in 2000. The success of mobile phone communication has been made possible by its affordability. In Nigeria the competition between mobile phone service providers such as MTN, Zain, Globacom, Etisalat, Multilinks, Zoom and Vodafone has further worked to make mobile phone affordability a reality.

The ability of mobile phones to boost business activities and improve the economy is the area that easily comes to mind when the benefits of mobile phones is a subject. However mobile phones have improved social live in so many ways. Its affordability is such that even primary school children own phones with which they communicate with parents, telling them to come and pick them after school hours. It is easier to appreciate what mobile phone communication has done to our lives when one compares the period preceding the arrival of the new information era and the period before its reign. Just imagine the difficulty involved in announcing the wedding of a a family member to other relations across the country and even beyond as it was during the era of incommunicado. One had to send letters or travel across the country with all the hazards. The other option is to sponsor an announcement in a national newspaper. Not all can afford this however. Mobile phones solved this problem through direct calls or by sending multiple sms even simultaneously.

The more than a dozen mobile phone service providers in Nigeria have directly provided jobs to thousands of Nigerians. They did not only provided jobs but some of the best jobs in the country as their staff are undoubtedly among the happiest in the country. Indirectly, the companies are responsible for importation opportunities they have provided to persons supplying phones and their accessories. There are also people who are involved in the retailing of these products. This excludes persons who have found jobs as operators of phone boots and retailers of recharge cards. Nigeria is a developing country where people use phones way ahead of their live spans. Thus some people have found jobs as technicians fixing faulty mobile phones sets.

The benefits of social development that mobile phones have brought are not just in terms of the social networking but also in terms of the corporate social responsibility of the service providers to the communities they serve. We never knew how conservative corporate organizations were in Nigeria until the arrival of mobile phone companies. The companies understand that there is the need to give back generously to people who have provided them with such a vast market. Along this line, they have competed to sponsor major events in the country. They have come to be associated with the sponsorship of major national and continental sporting tournaments, cultural events and so on. There are also charities and raffle draws that have changed the lives of many across the nation. Mobile phone companies have been known to hire lands for the erection of their communication masts for upwards of N500 000 (about $3500) per annum thereby ensuring a steady income for the land owners.

The activities of mobile phone companies have challenged other organizations to wake up to their corporate responsibilities to their respective host communities. Thus the economic and social revolution brought about by mobile phone companies is manifold, comprehensive and literarily unprecedented in the history of Africa’s most populous and influential nation.

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