We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Mobilities in rural Africa : new connections, new challenges.

Porter, G. (2016) 'Mobilities in rural Africa : new connections, new challenges.', Annals of the Association of American Geographers., 106 (2). pp. 434-441.


Fluid interdependencies of mobility—physical and virtual—are growing rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa: The remarkable expansion of mobile phone networks is bringing a tangible new dimension of connectivity into mobility, transport, and access equations on the ground. This article draws on in-depth field research, including co-investigation with two groups often disadvantaged in their physical mobility, youth and older people, to explicate some current African developments and their departure from prevailing Western-based conceptualizations of space–time interactions (regarding the potential for space–time flexibility and microcoordination afforded by mobile phones). Despite the fact that face-to-face interaction is often of great significance in Africa, when the value attached to personalized relationships is balanced against factors of widespread poverty and irregular, sometimes very dangerous transport, the potential for phone substitution appears greater than in many Western contexts. Better distance management through phone use could be particularly closely associated with populations with very low disposable incomes or those whose physical mobility is limited; for instance, by disability, infirmity, age, or gender.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Copresence, Motorcycle-taxi transport, Phones, Physical mobility, Poverty.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF (Advance online version)
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2015 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC © G. Porter This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.
Date accepted:10 September 2015
Date deposited:19 October 2015
Date of first online publication:04 January 2016
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar