On a recent visit to Nairobi I had the the chance to follow up on a few people who are beginning to use Freedom Fone in Kenya.
With 25 million and growing numbers of mobile phone users, Kenya has seen an exponential growth in mobile platforms and services. From Mpesa - mobile banking - to mfarming and mgovernance, the country is abuzz with all things mobile.
And rightly so. If the suffocating congestion and road traffic in Nairobi are any indicator, being able to do business via mobile phone holds numerous advantages.
FIT Resources is a local Kenya non-profit that helps develop and grow small scale entrepreneurs and enterprises, especially around agriculture and farming. They have set up a mobile phone service to target small and medium enterprises (SME's) and businesses via a network of national and regional FM radio stations.
James Kimaro, is their Media Development Officer realises the potential of using voice to engage wider audiences around FIT's radio programmes.
"How do you tap into the need of the listener? That is where tools like Freedom Fone come in. The weak link with radio is that once the programme is aired it's gone. So we want to provide key information from our programmers on demand for listeners across the country," explains Kimaro.
James Kimaro demonstrating his Freedom Fone service
The realisation that audiences and listeners are no longer dependent on traditional media channels for their information is often a difficult one for the organisations that depend on vertical models of information to do business. But understanding the power of mobile networks in creating horizontal flows of information holds numerous opportunities for small scale businesses.
FIT Resources aims to be able to provide Freedom Fone remotely to different radio stations via the web adding the advantage of interactive voice for their audiences. Should their pilot work, hiring out Freedom Fone's lines for mobile advertising purposes could provide a lucrative service for Kenya's booming mobile economy.