A new technology has crept onto the African scene that has enabled a step change in the way that the poor can access and share information. This concept note outlines why we believe that Instant Messaging (IM) through services such as Mxit can make a significant difference to the provision and impact of information services. It proposes a programme of action research that will use such services to prove the concept and enhance existing services.
The technology offers benefits in terms of lower cost and greater ease of use - users can enter into a"conversation" with a service provider. It is this ability to establish a relationship through the multiple exchange of texts that distinguishes the system from SMS based information services, and it is relationships that hold the key to translating information into practice.