"We'll be able to be in line with the rest of the world as well as, for many such as myself, blog on the go," says a young Algerian. The people of Africa's largest nation have been waiting many years for this moment.
It’s been a long time coming for the people of Algeria. Broken promises year after year from mobile providers made Algerians reluctant to believe any further pledges on 3G access from mobile authorities. But after a nationwide bid on the country’s networks, Algerians can finally follow in the footsteps of neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia, both providing 3G in 2010.
Green banners have slowly started adorning social media sites in the past few days, posing questions such as La 3G arrive chez nous. Nous sommes prêts. Et vous? / 3G has arrived. We’re ready. Are you? The most telling of them all: La 3G arrive aux quatre coins de l’Algérie / 3G has arrived to the four corners of Algeria.
Those corners specifically refer to four provinces (wilayas) across Algeria. In order for a license to be issued to any major mobile network, four provinces must be proposed as the initial guinea pigs for the availability of 3G. These provinces however, are yet to be disclosed.
Social network apps such as Instagram are yet to collect an avid following in Algeria
Assuming it happens in the near future, Algeria will finally be able to reach out to the world with constant feeds being obtainable via social media and blogs at the touch of a button. Next door in Tunisia, we have seen the explosion of a (digital) revolution. Live tweets and photo uploads meant that the whole world kept track with events as they unfolded in Sidi Bouzid and elsewhere. The same story can of course be told about Egypt.
Aside from revolutionary movements aided by technology, the social dimension of the youth’s use of mobile devices will become a more enjoyable experience, and eventually more in tune with users in other parts of the globe.
“The introduction of 3G is a positive but also important step for Algeria,” says Nassim Harzallah, a resident in Annaba, northeast Algeria. “We have waited so long to be able to connect without cables, anytime, anywhere. We’ll be able to be in line with the rest of the world as well as, for many such as myself, blog on the go.”
Another young man, Oussama Cherifa said, “social networking is a big part of young people’s lives. I’m addicted to all of them, which is why I want 3G. This way not only can I enjoy my social networks, but even enjoy properly the features on my (smartphone).”
Many social network apps such as Instagram are yet to collect an avid following in Algeria. Restrictions allow you to access the Internet on your mobile device only when in the vicinity of a Wi-Fi connection. As of March 2013, close to 4.5 million users were active on Facebook, with Twitter slowly picking up a following.
The increase of social media profiles such as YouTube podcasters and lately comedians Chemseddine Lamrani, Youcef Zarouta and Adel Sweezy has shown the growing use of platforms such as Instagram and Twitter in order to engage freely with fans and share the latest news. In true Algerian style, all three of these comedians have used sketches to express their (comedic) concern on the lack of 3G in Algeria.
As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. And in this instance, there really is no presumption as to how the country will respond to the introduction of a 3G network, and whether its potential success will expand from not just four provinces, but the entirety of Algeria.