As part of an ongoing project on mobile futures in emerging economies, a team of CKS researchers has gone to Ghana for the first time in CKS history. The team, comprised of Namrata Mehta, Ridhima Jaiswal, Aishwarya Panicker and Sathyan Velumani, will be in Ghana for a month, travelling to two different rural locations and attempting to gain an understanding of how mobile services can improve lives in rural settings.
While the mobile revolution has already happened in most parts of the world, with 19 million mobile subscribers in Ghana (of a population of 24 million) and over 827 million in India (of a population of 1.1 billion), the social media revolution is still happening, and we cannot yet determine or understand its consequences. Currently, most people in rural settings, even those who own mobile phones, are not yet connected to the internet. But this is changing fast. And the goal of our research in places like Ghana and India is to determine how we can develop meaningful solutions for rural populations in this age of increased connectivity and information accessibility.
The research team hopes to understand the circumstances and needs of rural Ghanaians in order to understand how to develop mobile technologies and services that will actually address real needs and lacks. These may help overcome barriers such as physical remoteness, access (or lack thereof) to information, and could improve healthcare systems, education systems, provide opportunities for employment, and even help improve government services. They may, in fact, change lives and truly make new things possible!
Research has only just begun, but we will be posting regular updates on this fascinating project, including dispatches from members of the research team. Stay tuned!