Wi-Fi, what Wi-Fi?

One of the realities I’ve faced on the Challenges Worldwide programme is that Wi-Fi connectivity is one of our most valuable luxuries at home that we consider a commodity. Before I came, I wasn’t expecting Wi-Fi in every host home, business or cafe, but I was expecting to find a hotspot or two to work remotely from in the city. That is not the reality in Accra.

There are a few businesses with Mi-Fi, a device that comfortably allows 2-3 people to connect to the internet before the connection starts to drop. But as it’s limited, when we’re on enterprise visits we’re not invited to join a Guest network, and most people hotspot off their mobile phones when using laptops at home or in the workplace.


Mobile phone contracts aren’t common, so when you hotspot you are using either credit or a bundle allowance. In Accra Vodafone X offers a 4G package that I can just about stretch out over a month, but I am much more conscious of how I use data now it truly feels like a luxury.

How does it impact work and home life?

  • Online market research quickly gets expensive, so although we still use the internet, a lot of volunteers have conducted face to face user testing, site visits and phoned around for competitor analysis and lead generation

  • Sharing documents is risky business as we’re plugging USBs into a number of different devices. Luckily most have been virus-free, but Avast has flagged a few nasties it’s protected my laptop from

  • Streaming services are off limits. I thought I might struggle to get the most up to date series on Netflix. On arrival I realised Netflix was not an option unless I wanted to dig deep into my savings to chill

  • I’ve found myself writing lists before I hotspot. Thoroughly thinking through what you need mitigates the risk of going off on a tangent and wasting data

  • You need to keep on top of your bundle because if you run out, it cuts out!

Here are a few tips on how to stretch your mobile allowance:

  • Android phones use less data than iPhones, so if you have a choice, use Android abroad

  • Make sure your phone isn’t automatically updating apps; manually update the most important

  • Turn mobile data off for background apps. Unless you’re using it, don’t let it use your data

  • Switch off location services

  • Close unwanted browsers

  • Keep your phone on low battery mode to reduce the number of times apps and emails are refreshed

  • Limit Facebook browsing (or stop altogether)

  • Avoid Facetime and use WhatsApp video or calls as they seem to drain less data

  • Make sure you’re not autosaving files from messages

  • Likewise, switch off auto-play for videos on social apps

  • USBs are still the best way to share files and media without using data. Just be wary about transferring PII and what might come with the file share

  • Take TV/movies with you and leave the newest shows for when you get home



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