When my mother insisted on buying a cellphone from my niece in 2014, I was silently wondering why she would need it.
After all, Telecom Namibia by that time have allowed satellite telecommunications to be connected on a fixed line on the farms, where my parents prefer to spend more time rather than the urban Omaruru, the birthplace of the family roots. She just said flatly “I need it to call my people”, presumably her friends and family. My father on the other hand has been a business minded man when it came to friends and family, was, and is still is using the Nokia phone since the Nokia days.
Fast forward, five years on my mother has surpassed my father’s cellphone by demanding a cellphone from my niece again. That was in 2016, just slightly before I move my career to the African continent. She said everyone has a smartphone and she liked the way they just pressed on the screen and was wondering why her cellphone is not reacting when others cellphone does. She said to my niece.
“Get a iPhone or Samsung or one of the Chinese ones”. My niece was dumbstruck by the information she was receiving from her grandmother. Such has the cellphone revolution began to take root in the urban and rural areas that almost … “everyone has got one...” as declared by my mother. Worldwide the bug called “cellphone” has bitten everybody that its ownership is visible, relevant and obvious. Nowadays no one even ask the price but having a cellphone has become an absolute necessity. In fact, nobody even ask how expensive it is but just insist on wanting it. In fact it has become a basic need rather than a must have. Cellphones are increasingly becoming a necessary bug that no one can live without and the trend is increasingly becoming more entrenched among the global poor of the population.
In fact according to the International Telecommunications Agency, a United Nations Agency declared that the chances that a child born today such as the Generation Z plus will not have a cellphone as a teenager are already slim and those teenagers that don’t have a cellphone in 2020 may lose out in terms of its intellectual competence of what the world offers today in terms of global inter connectivity, consumption habits, careers, buying trends, and future of work implications. With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for a young person to have a cellphone is critical as they may not only be socially connected for networking purposes but can also push for business ideas and relevant projects as the world is entering a new normal of virtual learning through applications such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams and “Meet to Greet” online interaction.
The cellphone revolution or the smartphone usage has given a voice to all people to be heard and economic rights to the youngsters of today to speak with voice on issues that concern them. For example, speaking another language, as a necessity to have a job will become the thing of the past, as digital media will be online instantaneously as translation and it’s happening already.
Our President Dr Hage Geingob told me when he was minister of Trade and Industry on the importance of the cellphone. He said a cellphone is not only a social tool but also a business tool.
With the advent of smartphone, that reality is increasingly becoming evident even for all the people including the low income and the rural and urban poor.
One thing is abundantly clear, a cellphone is here to stay and this will ensure and promote of what I will call the technological inclusion of the broader masses of the people and articulating on needs, they have not known before.
The Covid-19 pandemic seems to be accelerating the new way of doing things technologically with the Internet of Things (IOT) infrastructure and Namibia is certainly confronted with the new reality of technological inclusion and the impetus of the global order on the new wave of globalisation and that is through technology. The cellphones have also brought unsurpassable opportunity for turning otherwise empty time into something enjoyable. Facebook even famously declared “the more we connect, the better it gets”.
In fact the next disruptive world shows that people are buying more smartphones not only to communicate but as a device where they would play instead of work, and leisure instead of labour now with social distancing and health imperatives considered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The current cultural behaviour pattern shows that with the advent of cellphones and with the preponderance of the Covid-19, less emphasis would be put on the structure of life and more on the quality and its associated passion for life.
Cellphone users would want more chatting rather than meetings, apps and games rather than documentation, movies and computer games rather than documentaries, social and economic mobility rather than space confinement, a form of career choice, rather than social connection, lifestyle guide rather than instruction module, entertainment rather than infotainment, and information hotspot rather than a disruptive technological tool.
This interconnected diverse, exciting, innovative and dynamic global world will become more pronounced where no one will be left out even for the high, middle and low income earners and those voluntarily unemployed and unemployed people.
In fact the world may become so silly that even things that were not important before will become more important and that passing time by been on internet can actually create new careers, services, products and lifestyle preferences. This can range from sharing a recipe on preparing a kapana meat from the Single Quarters in Katutura or a Sushi from Japan without the need of a recipe book but through the cellphone and global inter-connectivity.
One thing is clear, the price of cellphones and smartphones and its associated services and products it may offer on data and voice will actually be forced to come down as the technological inclusion on broader reach can reap benefits with wider choice of goods and services. This would hold positive additional pro competitive benefits not only for the consumer but for the distributor and the producer too. Due to the Covid-19, new online products and services (such as a flying car or driverless cars or drones enabled food take-aways), online distribution channels (Amazon competitors are coming in), agricultural value chains (precision farming), socially induced quality of life sharing modules (exercise, exercise, exercise, new health products!!!) and marketing and promotional considerations (no more paper printing - ready for paperless society) are going to be so transformed that some companies and business as we knew it will completely disappear and/or close down but those associated more with taking advantage of the technological train will actually survive and be the developmental employer of choice. This will undoubtedly not only ground the entrepreneurship foundation in the world for the future generation but forcing all of us to adjust painfully and painlessly to the new normal as already evident due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This would also have revenue implications too for the Government and Central Banks worldwide as digital money is increasingly coming to the fore!
The cellphone have brought more than it bargained for ensuring economic democracy to those left on the periphery of mainstreamed social and economic life and for the first time for the worlds rich and the poor to have equal access to sharing experiences, events, breaking news and relevant information.
They will be spending their time sharing the same information, doing the same things and expressing on the same things. In short, technological or tech inclusion will leave no one out nor worse or better off and better yet will contribute to a Equal Society with Equal Voice and Equal Access to Information!
The post-Covid-19 phase would be exciting, revolutionary and adaptive not as disruptive technology but certainly an adaptive accelerated world driven by cellphones and global interconnectivity with industries and sectors transforming with a new breed of tech nerds that would make our world a safer, better, qualitative and humane place.