The Most Valuable Thing Many Africans Own

Rollo Romig marvels:

Mobile-phone technology is like fire: as soon as a society gets it, it can’t imagine life without it. In the current issue, Ken Auletta writes about the Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim, whose former company, Celtel, brought the cell-phone boom to Africa, where the number of cell phones “has grown from fewer than four million in 1998 to more than four hundred million todayalmost half the population of the continent.” Despite their expense, inconvenience, and even danger, they’ve proven invaluable in Liberia, a country entirely without landline service, where people need all the tools they can get to face the overwhelming task of rebuilding from nothing.