Politicians fail, technologies prevail
There’s been plenty of talk in recent years about a ‘United States of Africa‘. Fantasy or reality, politically such an entity looks as far off as it ever was. But visions of a continent borderless economically and politically are gradually being replaced by another borderless phenomenon – the mobile phone network. While Europe argues about roaming tariffs and a lack of integration, East Africa silently blazes a trail.
Celtel, MTN and Vodacom are just three of a growing band of African operators tearing down national boundaries to allow their customers seamless mobility as they travel from country-to-country. “One SIM card. 6 countries” proclaims Celtel. “Travel with your Vodacom SIMcard and enjoy Vodacom tariff in Kenya and Uganda” boasts Vodacom. The speed of change in the mobile industry – more so in developing countries – continues unabated. I’d bet on Africa being the first continent to create a true ‘single network’. After all, it’s already happening.
Ironically, in the mobile industry at least, it’s Europe, and not Africa, looking more like a developing country…