As reported profusely in the mainstream media, the Chinese government is investing in iffy African regimes to secure access to the troubled continent’s raw materials. For years, Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe has for instance received Chinese tech and training to control information flow: phone-tapping, radio jamming and internet-monitoring. You scratch my dictatorial back, I’ll scratch yours, little brother.
British-run short-wave radio station SW Radio Africa is routinely jammed in Zimbabwe’s cities. Now, reports the BBC’s global tech news program & podcast Digital Planet, the radio station is offering Zimbabweans free news headlines as daily cellphone text messages. During the recent clamp-down on the opposition, those in Zimbabwe who actually knew what was going on did so largely thanks to cellphones.
My old phone is in Tanzania, by the way.