The last few years have seen a surge in mobile phone use, particularly in developing regions in the global south. It is not just a growing need for communication services that has seen this explosion in mobile phone use, but the need for technically driven services in crucial sectors such as banking, health, education and even democratic processes. That the mobile phone is becoming synonymous with development processes is thanks to its mobile character that suggests ubiquitous access and connectivity. Although the mobile phone has been at the heart of a growing use of mobile technologies in development, it is but one device among a growing number of artifacts in this category. As tablets, laptops and smartphones gain prominence in everyday use of technology, an all-encompassing reference to mobile communications for development (M4D) encapsulates the use of more than the mobile phone.
M4D is a growing academic field in the wider Information for Communication Technologies for Development (ICT-for-Development) field. Driving the recognition for M4D is the Center for HumanIT at Karlstad University in Sweden that has not only published extensively through its the masters and PhD programs, but has also, since 2008, successfully organized 3 international biennial conferences in M4D. These occasions have successfully brought practitioners, academics, techies and policy makers together firmly establishing the role of mobile devices but more specifically the mobile phone in development efforts.
The first conference was held at Karlstad University, in Karlstad, Sweden in 2008. The second conference was held in 2010 in Kampala, Uganda and the third was in New Delhi, India, February 2012. HumanIT, in a bid to further the inclusiveness of the conference, has decided together with Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (Senegal) to hold M4D2014 in Senegal. Acknowledging the underrepresentation of the Francophone and West African audience at the previous conferences, the aim is to expand the knowledge in M4D with research, policy initiatives as well as development processes that have a mobile component from this region.