Google Helps Ugandans Get Questions Answered Through Free SMS

Posted Jul 1, 2009

There are about 9 million Ugandans that have access to mobile phones, but do not have Internet access.  Google and The Grameen Foundation have partnered up on an initiative that allows Ugandans to receive weather forecasts, farming tips, and even sex advice in the form of text message replies.

Similar projects have been initiated in Ghana and Kenya.  But in Uganda, the service is only available to people that use the MTN network.  Text messages are sent free of charge and they receive information back in the form of an answer.  This is a similar model to what ChaCha was doing in the U.S.

The service seems very convenient for Ugandans, but sometimes the answers that are returned appear to not be the result that the mobile phone owner was expecting.  In an interview with the BBC, one Ugandan mother used the service for helping teach her daughter about sex.  Before the woman said that she felt awkward, but now she passes the questions to Google and shows the answers to her daughter.