On the plane this morning (I'm making my way to the Law and Society Association annual meetings), I flipped through the Wall Street Journal and saw an article about Africa illustrated by a photo of a dark hand holding a Nokia. Could this be yet another incarnation of the hackneyed “cells phones revolutionizing Africa oh wow farmers can get commodity prices on their mobiles and no longer get rooked at the market” stock piece?
Indeed it was, in a way.
I swear, these articles come out so often college students could make a drinking game of it – take a shot every time you see the stock-prices-on-phones example! Or is it some editorial world where's Waldo, planted here and there to see who's actually reading (is there a prize?) I, for one, have lost count of how many times I've seen it since the first coverage around 2005. And yet I've never seen a single farmer consulting commodity prices on his phone.
The WSJ article at least took a novel tack: turns out those commodity prices on a phone aren't so revolutionary after all. Service providers in Uganda are finding that once people have to pay for the quotes, few deem the service worthwhile.
So can we move on to another story now?