Mobile and Intimate Conflicts: The Case of Young Female Adults in Nigeria

Mobile and Intimate Conflicts: The Case of Young Female Adults in Nigeria

Gbenga Afolayan (The Federal Polytechnic Ilaro, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6166-0.ch006


The recent trends in the developing world show that mobile telephony has signalled a significant milestone for the way people communicate. Even though there are still issues of unequal access to mobile phones, the fact remains that young people's access to mobile phones has become prevalent in Africa with its resultant impacts on virtual mobility, individual's technical capability, and personalised interaction. This chapter provides another local perspective on the transformative debate of mobile phones, the place of young adults in it, and its social consequences on intimate relationship in Nigeria. After reviewing the recent literature on mobile usage in Africa, and its social consequences on intimate conflicts, the chapter explores the ways in which the mobile phone has altered the modes of circulating information that is meant to remain secret. The young adults' usage indicate that the mobile phone, which is seen as an example of a globally imagined technological tool, is appropriated in localised ways in which the local slogan, “Wahala don sele” (problem has started), is articulated in intimate conflicts. The chapter concedes that mobile communication plays major roles in daily affairs of young female adults, but it has its social consequences. Therefore, it suggests that future research should look beyond the normative view of mobile development, which only concentrates on governance, education, business, and health.
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Mobile telephony has come of age ‘with a big splash’—making history as one of the quickest diffusing communication technologies that reached almost six billion subscribers in 2011 (Wei, 2013). In the last decade, young people’s access to mobile phones has quickly become prevalent in Nigeria just as in most other countries. The use of mobile phones has led to a new perspective of virtual mobility in terms of increase in the individual’s technical capability, quick accessibility (to anybody, anywhere, and anytime), geographical extension and personalised social interaction. This growing perspective and use of mobile phones is an increasingly defining feature of contemporary life in Nigeria, as well as elsewhere in Africa. Indeed, mobile phones are expanding at a faster rate in terms of their designs, contents and applications, with young people representing the greatest proportion of consumer market in the post-modern world.

In more than a decade, Nigeria has moved from a situation of limited and controlled media, marked mainly by government monopoly of communications, to a liberalised and pluralistic mobile communication environment by privately owned Global Satellite Mobile phone service providers. The story began in 2001 when ECONET Wireless and MTN Communications were issued a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operating licence, while M-Tel (a national carrier) was given an automatic licence. By 2003, Globalcom was also granted operating licence as the second national carrier (Elegbeleye, 2005; Olatokun & Bodunwa, 2006). The introduction of mobile communication system by the Nigerian government was to increase the Nigerian teledensity and in extention to make telecommunication more cheaper and accessible to the common man. Just like in other developing countries, deregulation of telecommunications potentially contributed to the growth in mobile phone users in Nigeria (Elegbeleye, 2005). ln 2004, there were almost two billion mobile users globally. Most developed countries have a penetration rate of 70 percent and most countries in the developing world follow close behind (Ling, 2004; Castells, Fernández-Ardèvol & Qiu, 2007).

In Nigeria today, mobile communication has transformed lives and generated new socio-economic opportunities (Pyramid Research, 2010). For example, daily activities such as banking transactions, shopping and trade have increasingly been transformed by new forms of mobile usage. Besides, the way mobile communication services have evolved across the country, and the speed at which they are being subscribed to have shown the potency of mobile communication services to both urban and rural Nigerians. A shining example of mobile innovation in Africa is M-Pesa—a mobile payment service in Kenya. It has provded opportunties to people without bank accounts to have access to easy-to-use, widely accessible and cheap money transfers. This mobile initiative has enabled potential customers to send mony quickly and securely to another mobile phone user (Hughes & Lonie, 2007; Etzo & Collender, 2010). In 2012, Firstmonie, a mobile financial service solution, was launched by the First Bank of Nigeria to enable subscribers to conveniently perform banking transactions through the use of mobile phone. In particular, the initiative helps to mitigate the challenges of banking services delivery to the vast unbanked market. Besides, in Nigeria, mobile media are also used as reliable tools for collection of medical information, supporting diagnosis and improving cancer care, and disseminating health education in a low resource setting (Odigie, Yusufu, Dawotola, Ejagwulu, Abur, Mai, Ukwenya, Garba, Rotibi & Odigie, 2012). Another example from Nigeria shows the new mobile health (mHealth) initiative. The organisation called ‘mPedigree’ has developed a service in Nigeria which enables consumers to check whether anti-malaria medicine produced by pharmaceutical companies are genuine or not. A code displayed on the anti-malaria medicine is sent via text message to a toll-free number, and within two seconds of texting the code, a message appears on the consumer’s mobile phone with the word “YES”—a simple response meaning the drug is genuine (BBC, 2013).

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