Google Launches Gmail SMS in Africa

Digital Content

Although there has been phenomenal growth in cellphone ownership and use in Africa, not everybody has a smartphone and mobile broadband access through 3G or Wi-Fi remains patchy. Google is rolling out a slightly low-tech e-mail solution in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

As long as you have a basic mobile phone with voice and SMS capability in these three African countries, you’ll now be able to do all your emailing by text message through activating a simple setting on your Gmail account.

 “Gmail SMS automatically forwards your emails as SMS text messages to your phone and you can respond by replying directly to the SMS,” says Geva Rechav, Product Manager of Emerging Markets at Google. “You can control the emails received by replying with commands such as MORE, PAUSE and RESUME. Additionally, compose a new email as an SMS and send to any email address recipient—who will find your message in the right email conversation thread.”

The service itself is free, although users will have to pay their network provider’s SMS charges. It is not clear where else will eventually be able to use the service, presuming it is successful in the three initial countries.