Mobile phones in Tanzania: tools for social change?


  • Adela Rodrigo


As you drive into Dar Es Salaam from the international airport, the number of billboards advertising mobile phones and mobile phone contracts is overwhelming. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 148 out of 168 on the 2010 UN Human Development Index (UN Human Development Report, 2010).However, it is clear that the mobile phone industry in the country is booming. Mobile phone companies such as Tigi, Zain, Zantel and Vodacom are fighting over the Tanzanian consumers. By offering affordable handsets and cheaper rates, those companies are making mobile phones accessible and affordable to many Tanzanians, for whom the technology represents their only and in most cases first experience of an Information and Communication Technology (ICT). According to a study carried out by the Centre for Economic Policy Research and Vodafone (Waverman et al, 2005), 97 per cent of people in Tanzania could access a mobile phone in 2005, while only 28 per cent said they could access a landline.

Author Biography

Adela Rodrigo

Adela Rodrigo currently works at the Business Liaisons unit of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. She has a background in Cultural and Media studies and a MA in Human Rights. In 2008, she started the master’s course in Communication for Development at Malmö University.