Perhaps nowhere is the speed of technological change more visible than in South Africa. As of 2009, there were 4 billion mobile phones in a world of 6 billion people, and some of the phones are in remote South African villages, where people like Bekowe Skhakhane live. Skhakhane, a thirty-six-year-old woman, fetches water from a river a mile away, lights her home with candles in the evenings, cooks over an open flame, yet relies upon her Nokia second-generation (2G) mobile phone to talk to her husband on a job in Johannesburg, 250 miles away. This raises an obvious question: If a village has no running water and electricity, how are people like Skhakhane keeping their mobile phones powered up?
According to the New York Times ...