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Opinions of Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Columnist: Ajao, Oluniyi David

Surviving the energy crisis in Ghana

The current energy crisis in Ghana has been affecting the livelihood of many people in Ghana, in many ways. Those who rely on electrical energy for their livelihood are amongst the ones hit most. Power supply has been very unstable and unreliable despite the load-shedding exercise, which so far, has lasted over 8 months. The purpose of this write-up is to provide an alternative for people who earn a living on the Internet, to be able to keep track of their business, even when power from the national grid is off and all other alternative power supplies have failed.

Mobile Internet access is now firmly established in Ghana, as all the cellular network operators offer one form of mobile Internet connection or the other. Areeba, Tigo, Onetouch (all GSM networks) offer mobile Internet across the length and breadth of Ghana, using GPRS and EDGE technologies. Mobile2i offers mobile Internet access for laptop computers, using Kasapa’s CDMA cellular network. The bottom-line is, users are thus able to access the Internet from their mobile phones or laptop computers – virtually anywhere, anytime.

Mobile phones are known to last for between 3 and 5 days, depending on overall usage, network signal strength, phone model and so on. Mobile phones are battery-powered and only need to be re-charged for a few hours, to work for well over 24 hours.

Whether you an online entrepreneur or only need to access the internet for an emergency, the information below will be helpful for you.

Connecting The article: Mobile Internet in Ghana contains all the information you need to connect to the Internet from your mobile phone, if you are in Ghana. See: http://www.mobileafrica.net/a91.htm

Mobile applications

There are several mobile phone applications (software) out there that would enable you to run many of the basic functions you regularly use your desktop computer for, on a mobile phone. Though laptop computers can also work for between 2 and 5 hours, without mains power supply, a mobile phone can last much longer than that even with heavy usage.

Internet Browsing: All GPRS/EDGE phones come with an in-built WAP/XHTML/HTML browser. This would enable you to access mobile versions of Internet websites. High-end browsers on high-end phones can even handle regular websites though with limited functionalities. Popular online portals like Yahoo, MSN, Google, GhanaWeb etc, all have mobile versions (wapsites) that can be conveniently accessed from the tiny screens of mobile phones. You may visit http://mobileafrica.mobi from your WAP device, for a list of such wapsites.

One notable mobile application in this arena is Opera Mini. The software, released by Opera Software ASA of Sweden, can be installed on many GPRS/3G mobile phones and would enable users to visit just about any Internet website, from mobile phone. The software passes user’s requests to a proxy server that then accesses the website they want to reach. The server then reformats the web pages for the mobile phone, before sending it back. Ultimately, the file size and screen dimension is much smaller. Opera Mini can be downloaded from WAP devices at http://mini.opera.com

Opera Mobile™ is a fast and secure browser available for S60 and Windows mobile handsets while Opera Mini™ is a fast and easy alternative to Opera's mobile browser, allowing users to access the Web on mobile phones that would normally be incapable of running a Web browser. This includes the vast majority of today's WAP-enabled phones.

Online Messaging & Chat: This is another popular activity online. There are many mobile applications that can replicate the desktop computer experience, on mobile devices. MSN and Yahoo both allow users to chat on their mobile portals but mobile applications like mig33, Mxit, etc allow users to access their MSN, AIM and Yahoo contacts, as well as chat with others on the same chat network.

These mobile applications have gained popularity amongst the youth, especially in South Africa, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom. They can also be used for business applications when there is a mission-critical chat to be conducted, and there is no electricity to power desktop computers.

It is important to emphasize that browsing the Internet via mobile phones can never replicate the experience one would have on a desktop computer, but its better than no ‘net access at all. The added convenience of mobility means one can access email, chat, stock market information, air travel schedule and other vital information, whilst away from the home or office.

See also:

http://www.mobileafrica.net/ghana.php
http://www.mxit.co.za
http://www.mig33.com

The author, Oluniyi David Ajao is based in Ghana and blogs at www.davidajao.com

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.