Mobile for development in Uganda

Uganda has been a popular testing ground for the new wave of Mobile for Development services (or M4D) since about 2008, due to its high mobile penetration, wide knowledge of English and reputation for steady growth and development over many years.

The first rush to develop mobile apps created an initial buzz, and then a short lived bubble. A 2010 survey found 24 mobile applications in East Africa in the health sector alone.

Some of the most innovative and successful apps were created by the Grameen Foundation, below is a selection of materials we created to promote them.


sms weather flyer sms farmers flyer 1 sms farmers flyer 2    
SMS weather forecast SMS farmer info
flyer 1
SMS farmer info
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Farmers can get weather reports and ask questions about agriculture by sending a text to 6006. The answers come from a database with tips on things like how to grow tomatoes and how to look after your chickens. Run with Brosdi.

The service was promoted by Village Phone operators because it was aimed at rural areas and people with limited access to mobile phones. The Village Phone is a mobile pay-phone, designed like a desk phone, with calls and information services sold by an operator.


Sexual Health

sms sexual health poster sms sexual health student flyer 1 sms sexual health student flyer2 plant coffee intercrop coffee
SMS sexual health poster SMS sexual health info student flyer 1 SMS sexual health info student flyer 2 SMS sexual health info rural flyer 1 SMS sexual health info rural flyer 2
recorded information on sexual health        
Recorded information on sexual health        

Sexual health is a taboo topic in Uganda. Myths about condoms and birth control are common. How to communicate accurate messages about reproductive health in such an environment? SMS provides a private and trusted form of communication about HIV and STIs, and also about contraception, antenatal care and immunization. A second service allowed users to hear recorded information about sexual health through a menu system. Both projects run with Marie Stopes and StraightTalk.


SMS Listings

sms akatale flyer 1 sms akatale flyer 2      
SMS listings
flyer 1
SMS listings
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SMS Akatale is a listings service. Akatale is Lugandi for market. After a trial with the used car market in Nairobi, it was trialed in rural Uganda. The idea was to link farmers with buyers in the city, and allow them to sell directly to them, cutting out the middleman.


Question Box

question box        
Question Box        

In Pune, rural India, a wall mounted box with a speaker and a receiver is known as a Question Box. You press a button, ask it any question, and a few seconds later you get a reply. In between, far away in a call centre, is an operator with a computer will search for the answer on Google. In Uganda, Question Box was run by Village Phone operators, or you could call it yourself.


Phone Manuals

using nokia 1200        
how to use
a nokia 1200

The use of a new product doesn't always depend on the quality of educational materials for customers on how to use it: witness the mobile phone manual. While young people often feel playing around with a new gadget, older users preferred a manual.


Related Projects

Sam Rich