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Youth, mobility and mobile phones in Africa: findings from a three-country study

Porter, G.; Hampshire, K.; Abane, A.; Munthali, A.; Robson, E.; Mashiri, M.; Tanle, A.

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K. Hampshire

A. Abane

A. Munthali

E. Robson

M. Mashiri

A. Tanle


he penetration of mobile phones into sub-Saharan Africa has occurred with amazing rapidity: for many young people, they now represent a very significant element of their daily life. This paper explores usage and perceived impacts among young people aged c. 9–18 years in three countries: Ghana, Malawi and South Africa. Our evidence comes from intensive qualitative research with young people, their parents, teachers and other key informants (in-depth interviews, focus groups and school essays) and a follow-up questionnaire survey administered to nearly 3000 young people in 24 study sites. The study was conducted in eight different sites in each country (i.e. urban, peri-urban, rural and remote rural sites in each of two agro-ecological zones), enabling comparison of experiences in diverse spatial contexts. The evidence, collected within a broader research study of child mobility, allows us to examine current patterns of usage among young people with particular attention to the way these are emerging in different locational contexts and to explore connections between young people's phone usage, virtual and physical mobilities and broader implications for social change. The issues of gender and inter-generational relations are important elements in this account.


Porter, G., Hampshire, K., Abane, A., Munthali, A., Robson, E., Mashiri, M., & Tanle, A. (2012). Youth, mobility and mobile phones in Africa: findings from a three-country study. Information Technology for Development, 18(2), 145-162.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 3, 2012
Deposit Date May 17, 2012
Publicly Available Date Dec 2, 2014
Journal Information Technology for Development
Print ISSN 0268-1102
Electronic ISSN 1554-0170
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 2
Pages 145-162
Keywords Adoption and diffusion of IT and rate of uptake, Sustainable development in developing and transition economies.


Accepted Journal Article (328 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Information Technology for Development on 03/02/2012, available online at:

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