I am excited to read the following news item on the BBC website (with thanks to Giacomo Rambaldi and Web2ForDev discussion list on Dgroups).

Receive Gmail as SMSGoogle launch SMS version of Gmail in Africa: Google has launched a text message-based version of its email service targeted at users in Africa. Gmail SMS can run on so-called “dumb phones” which only have very basic features and no access to the internet. The service has so far been made available in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya… Gmail SMS automatically forwards your emails as SMS text messages to your phone and you can respond by replying directly to the SMS. (Read on)

Why is this exciting for Dgroups? Because it provides new possibilities for people without internet in Africa to join Dgroups and participate in dialogue for development. And it provides new possibilities for development professionals to learn from and interact with a hugely expanded community that will in future include many whose voices were previously unheard.

A major strength of Dgroups is that we focus on inclusion. That is why we put email, the most widely used internet tool, at the centre of our communications. This new announcement means that email communications could be within reach of almost everybody worldwide within a few years.

If you are in Ghana, Nigeria or Kenya, or have colleagues in those countries, I encourage you to let them know and to try it out for themselves by sending an SMS message to a Dgroup, and receiving Dgroups messages via a basic SMS mobile phone.

by Neil Pakenham-Walsh