Google brings email via SMS to Africa
To let more people in Africa send and receive emails despite limited access to the Internet, Google is introducing a new service that lets them use email via SMS messages.
A report on tech site CNET cited an Associated Press report that Google embarked on the mission after noting many Africans have mobile phones but far fewer have access to email.
“In effect, Google will be giving people access to the Internet with feature handsets. Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya are the first countries to get the service,” it said.
Quoting the AP story, CNET said Nigerians began seeing billboard ads regarding Google’s text message email service last July.
CNET said this was not the first time Google worked in Africa on mobile platforms, having linked up with non-profit Grameen Foundation in 2009 to let mobile phone users in Uganda get information on health, agriculture, and the weather through SMS messages.
In 2012, Google worked with France Telecom to bring the Gmail SMS Chat service, which cuts the cost of text messaging in several African countries.
Under the service, Google lets users get Gmail messages for free as text messages, and replying to the emails will take what it costs to send a text message.
CNET said Google stands to get in return a potential windfall from millions of mobile users in Africa.
The AP story quoted Google’s Nigeria marketing manager Affiong Osuchukwu as saying the search giant is not just looking to profit.
“We consider (sub-Saharan Africa) to be an investment region. We know we have to invest resources and time to develop the market in order for the market to become valuable to us in a way that we can do business,” Osuchukwu said. — TJD, GMA News