Mobile phones in Africa: opportunities and challenges for academic librarians

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose – Lack of internet access and availability of computers in Africa has hindered learning and teaching there. However, the growing prevalence of mobile phones in Africa and elsewhere has created a way for information to be quickly and easily disseminated in areas where access to the internet and computers are limited. This paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach – Mobile phones in Africa are currently being used to share information relating to agriculture, health, and finance. This paper will examine these current uses, investigate the current and future use of mobile phones by academic libraries and in education in Africa, and discuss how mobile phones might be leveraged to further education and information dissemination through academic libraries. Findings – Limited access to electricity, computers, and the internet has prevented technological growth in Africa in the past, but innovative uses of mobile phones have provided an alternate avenue of progress. More still needs to be done so that this technology is accessible by all, such as training in basic adult literacy and English as a second language. African librarians should adopt mobile phone technologies as an integral part of their service, and employ them particularly in the areas of text reference, information literacy, and outreach. Originality/value – Librarians around the world are at a critical time, when the rapid developments brought about by the internet and mobile phones must be sought as a way to enhance library services. African librarians are in a unique position to utilize mobile phones to create new avenues of information sharing and instruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-192
Number of pages14
JournalNew Library World
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 4 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Academic libraries
  • Africa
  • Information literacy
  • Mobile phones
  • Technology
  • Text messaging


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