That’s a lotta walking; plus, farmers with cell phones

I am really happy that Global Voices Online has started breaking up its Daily Blog Roundups into separate posts, one for each region. Compartmentalization has always made things easier for me to digest ;>

Today I saw some neat stories.

From the Middle East and North Africa Roundup, here’s a story about a guy who has been walking through Middle Eastern nations for seven years in the name of peace.

Inspired by the ancient Arab travel writer Ibn Batuta, a Tunisian traveller has embarked on a 10-year journey on foot and writes about his experiences.
Nearly 7 years and 40,000 kilometres into his walk across the Middle East, Reda Bin Al Haj Ahmad‚Äôs journey continues. Whenever the Tunisian traveller becomes weary, he draws strength from his inspiration — the ancient Arab travel writer Ibn Batuta.


He has visited 18 countries: Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Yemen, Oman and the UAE.

He has been beaten four times, robbed of his money and detained by police four times during his journey.

The idea of traveling all over and writing about it sounds so appealing…except, of course, for that last bit. And I’m not sure I would want to walk the whole way, either :> But what this guy is doing really cool. It’s too bad he’s not blogging it every night!

The Sub-Saharan Africa Roundup links to a blog post that links to this piece, which is a copy-and-paste of a Reuters article by Rebecca Harrison. (Ah, Google.)

“I check the prices for the day on my phone and when it’s a good price I sell,” he [Daniel Mashva] told Reuters from his village in the remote northeast of South Africa. “I can even try to ask for a higher price if I see there are lots of buyers.”

Mashva is one of around 100 farmers in Makuleke testing cell phone technology that gives small rural farmers access to national markets via the Internet, putting them on a footing with bigger players and boosting profits by at least 30 percent.

“Mainstream farmers have access to market information so they can negotiate better prices. This cell phone enables poor rural farmers to get that same information,” said Mthobi Tyamzashe, head of communications at South African cell phone operator Vodacom, which is sponsoring the project.


Like almost half of Africans, neither Chauke nor Mashva had made a phone call let alone surfed the web before receiving their new phones. But both are now hooked and deftly manoeuvre their hi-tech handsets with pride.

Cell phone use has rocketed 100 percent in the world’s poorest continent since 2000, and the Makuleke scheme is one of many ways the technology is being used to tackle poverty.

Experts say wireless technology is also the best way to bring the Internet to the poor, mainly because inhospitable and sparsely-populated African landscapes mean rolling out landline infrastructure is not commercially viable.

I think this is absolutely fantastic. I hope the project is sustainable!