Twitter recently stopped sending tweets out via SMS to Africa. To be fair, they stopped service in a lot of other parts of the world too, but it’s disenchanting to discover that we West Africans are not on their list of future locations (i.e. places where they plan to negotiate with cellular providers).
As an IT worker who does not have Internet access at home (6 months of saying “we’ll get it next month” has yet to yield desired results), Twitter quickly proved an invaluable source of news and happenings. Even someone as unplugged as myself (I am embarrassingly bad at the social media game) found it useful. WordPress development? WordPress plugins? Global voices? BarCampAfrica? Barak Obama? All on Twitter, all great to have with me during long weekends of unconnectivity.
Hash, of whom I’m a great admirer, recently wrote about a vision for a Twitter competitor here in Sub-Saharan Africa. Any service that would allow instant cheap communication, free from web interface, paid from SMS, could gain a huge following. Look how popular services like hi5 and facebook are here in Cotonou.
It’s a shame that Twitter cut us off just as the conversation could have started. What kinds of tools CAN be used for cheap communication here in Benin? The answer is that today, there aren’t many at all. Tomorrow, though, who knows?