Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Used cell phones go to Africa

April 13, 2011 by Renée Andor, staff writer

A class project to collect used cell phones to give to remote communities in Ghana has turned into a personal mission for Camosun sociology student Kevin Davis.

Davis started the project, Africa Calling, along with five of his classmates at the beginning of March. Drop boxes have been located in five central locations, including the Camosun bookstores, and Davis estimates 500 phones have been donated so far.

Camosun student Kevin Davis is collecting cell phones for Africa (photo by Renée Andor, Nexus).

The project was set to end on April 15, but Davis was so inspired by the amount of phones the group received he decided to continue collecting them.

“I just want to put smiles on people’s faces, get a few smiles on my heart, and give back,” says Davis, “and, really, that’s what it’s all about.”

The drop boxes will remain at the two bookstores indefinitely, and Davis plans to ask downtown businesses to display them as well. But he’s not stopping there; he hopes to find a chain store willing to take the project nationwide.

“I want to make a huge impact,” says Davis. “If I do this, and I concentrate and make this number one, people will step up and take notice.”

Davis is thinking big: he wants every person in Africa to have a cell phone. Of the 900 million people currently living in Africa, roughly two-thirds don’t have cell phones.

Texting and incoming calls are free in Africa, making the phone itself the main cost. Cell phones will make communication easier for people living in remote areas.

Phones that go to Africa need to have removable Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards to function. Of the 500 phones Africa Calling has collected so far, Davis estimates that 100 have this kind of SIM card. The remaining 400 phones will go to people at various shelters in Victoria.

Camosun social sciences instructors Francis Adu-Febiri and Francis Yee are taking the donated phones to Ghana on their trip there in June.

Adu-Febiri, who teaches Davis’ class, was raised in Ghana, and has been back there numerous times. He says many people have asked him to give them cell phones on his trips back, and he believes the project will make an impact.

“We’re focusing on empowerment,” says Adu-Febiri. “Communication is the key to make a difference on the continent.”

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