GSM versus People Power in Africa

Let’s force GSM tariffs down. Join a mass protest switch off ur fone on fri sept 19 ’03. They’ll lose millions. It worked in US & Argentina. Spread Dis txt.

It’s been close to 5 years since the Great GSM Boycott in Nigeria. Some claim that up to 75% of mobile phone users switched off their phones on 9/13 in widespread protests that were regarded as much of a charge against the Nigerian state as it was a statement of protest vis-a-vis the country’s corrupt telecommunication companies. Many disaffected users even drew parallels between the activities of the phone companies and those of oil companies which operate in the country’s delta region and are known for conniving with the Nigerian state.

Following the boycott, the companies set off on a charm offensive to win back their clientèle after acknowledging that a substantial number of customers did switch off their phones. The companies did give in to a number of customer demands but found other ways to compensate for the drop in revenue (by shifting additional costs to users). An important positive impact of the boycott was the noticeable increased determination of the National Communications Commission to enforce the sector’s basic regulations.

One question in particular came to mind when reading Odabare’s account of the Great Boycott: If a tactic as basic as switching off a mobile phone apparently worked in the US, Argentina and Nigeria, then why haven’t we seen additional copycat tactics since that have proved successful?

Patrick Philippe Meier

2 responses to “GSM versus People Power in Africa

  1. I think its a bit risky to do something like that. A lot of people cant live without it!

  2. Pingback: The Best of iRevolution: Four Years of Blogging | iRevolution

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