Texting For Jobs In Kenya
By Mike Masnick, Wed Apr 20 02:15:00 GMT 2005

Kenyans are finding it easier to post and find jobs via mobile phone text message than the traditional Internet, highlighting how mobile services leapfrog more than just voice communications in developing nations.

For years, there have been stories about how mobile phone service in developing nations would help them to "leapfrog" other nations with legacy landline phone systems. Most of the focus, though, has been on the voice communications aspect of the offerings, though, certainly some have been highlighting the data possibilities as well.

Job seekers in Kenya are providing a perfect example of how this works. While there is Internet service available, it's difficult for many to use. It often involves traveling quite some distance to get to an Internet cafe to use an open computer to check for open job listings. Service is often quite expensive. However, with the growing use of mobile phones, employers looking for workers just need to send out a text message describing the work offered, and potential workers can quickly and easily reply -- and it still costs less than using the Internet. With it becoming common for small groups of people to share a mobile phone, it's easy for word to get around quickly when jobs become available.

What's most impressive about this, however, is the simplicity of it all. Too often, stories about improving the technology in developing nations makes it sound incredibly complicated. However, this is a perfect example where simplicity rules the day. Mobile service has taken Kenya by storm since telecom service in that country was made competitive. With full Internet access so much more expensive and difficult to obtain, it should come as no surprise at all that more data services are quickly moving to mobile phones. All of this should be a reminder to those developing such services in developing nations that it's not just the phone system that's being leapfrogged -- but the Internet as well.