BUSHENYI, Uganda--Laban Rutagumirwa charges his mobile phone with a car battery because his dirt-floor home deep in the remote, banana-covered hills of western Uganda does not have electricity.
In an area where electricity is scarce and Internet connections virtually nonexistent, the mobile phone has revolutionized scientists' ability to track this crop disease and communicate the latest scientific advances to remote farmers.
With his phone, Rutagumirwa collects digital photos, establishes global positioning system coordinates and stores completed 50-question surveys from nearby farmers with sick plants. He sends this data, wirelessly and instantly, to scientists in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
Once solar power generators become less expensive, Africa will be able to take full advantage of the new communication technologies.
tags: distribution, greatest, infrastructure, mobile, niche construction