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Giving a voice to Kenya’s ‘voiceless’

75% of Kenyans and most people in East Africa don’t have access to a smartphone or computer. This disconnects them from public platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and their voices are rarely heard by governments, decision makers and the general public. They have been ‘voiceless’ but things are set to change.

Megaphone, a new initiative from Echo Mobile, was created to vastly broaden the scope of public discourse in this region. Through partnerships with local media, Megaphone aims to enable anyone with a basic phone - especially those who can’t access social media - to share opinions, report issues and make their voice heard.

Megaphone wanted to understand more about people in this group, to create empathy and test whether their current service addresses people’s needs and allows them to express their opinions in ways that suit them.

ThinkPlace went into homes in the informal settlements of Kibera to understand what it meant to be voiceless, and to gain a clearer picture of people’s lives, goals, dreams and motivations. We wanted to understand the realities for people without a public voice in Kenya, and how their needs and motivators vary. We tested the service with them in their own homes to identify usability issues, gaps and behaviours.

We did a live simulation test of the service with Echo Mobile’s partner Ghetto Radio, bringing together groups of people in the informal settlements in Mathare. We got to observe and test in real time how people respond to the service, group dynamics, and the importance of context around the presenter’s call to action.

We spent time with the producers of Ghetto Radio to understand the system the service would operate in, so our recommendations centred on both the people using the service and the people delivering it.

Our work gave Echo Mobile a deeper understanding of their users and the usability of their service, along with its wider strategic context, to make it easier for every voice to be heard through Megaphone. 

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