Mobile Phone text messages to rescue entertainment, advocacy or democracy?

A few days ago, in my blog, I wrote an article titled “Mobile Phones connecting or disrupting ?I got  a chunk of responses from readers and that kept me motivated to put how mobile phones are being used in Ethiopia

Last Sunday 93275 text messages were received by Ethiopian television to select ‘Gemena drama winners Meseret Mebrate and others. On every holyday almost all mobile owners get a text message from different governmental organization. Various business organization text about their products almost to all mobile owners in the country.  Does this mean mobile phones text messages have grown in to a central place in the Ethiopian urban society? Some might say yes but I say….

There was a time when text messages were nothing more than a minor inconvenience but these days they are not any more. Mobile text messages are being turned into marketing and advocacy texts. They are becoming annoying. I can say text messages are becoming commercials that we wish not to see. The fact that they are cheapest and most popular mode of mobile phone communication making it much difficult for us to avoid the advertisements we wish not to see.

Alemahyehu tells his frustration about unwanted messages on his phone “I’m really, really, really annoyed. Everybody, governmental or business organizations send me a message of their wish.  I know that this might not be new, but it’s new for me, why would I get a message which I do not like to have on my phone. As you might witness it’s apparently getting worse. I get a message on every occasion of governmental holydays. “It’s actually far worse than people thought for two reasons. First, you generally can’t delete it without opening it first “Second, there’s no way to stop it. You can’t install a kind of anti-SMS spam program on your mobile phone’’. Besides this unlike governmental organizations or some business firms I do not believe other human right activist groups and political parties have similar opportunities to send such bulk messages.’’

Three years after the ban on mobile texting is lifted mobile text messages created a renewed interest in the role of new communication technologies in the form of mobile advocacy and marketing activities. It is a new example in a growing list of events in the country.

Mobile phones are becoming the most important advocacy technology for the last couple of years. The reason for this is quite simple – though the quality of the service of Ethiopian Telecom Corporation is annoyingly bad mobile phone penetration vastly exceeds any other means of communication in the country. Mobile phone texting is the cheapest and most popular mode of mobile advocacy but I do not remember when text messages were used for political campaign during last election. Mobiles are powerful because they’re pervasive, personal and capable of authoring content. I would love to see texting being used for freedom of opinion! What do you think?



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