Google creates Gmail SMS for mobile phone users in Africa

19 Jul 2012

Image from Google depicting a user composing an email SMS message

Google has created a new SMS version of Gmail specifically for mobile phone users in Africa who may have more basic phones. The service will initially be available in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

In a blog post, Google’s product manager for Emerging Markets Geva Rechav said Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya will firstly use the service.

“You can now send and receive emails as SMS messages using your mobile phone, regardless of whether or not your phone has an internet connection, like Wi-Fi or 3G. Gmail SMS works on any phone, even the most basic ones which only support voice and SMS,” said Rechav.

It seems that Gmail SMS will work by automatically forwarding people’s emails as SMS text messages to their phones. Users will then be able to respond by replying directly to the SMS, according to Rechav.

And Google said receiving Gmail SMS will be free of charge.  

Rechav said standard SMS rates will apply for users when they are replying to messages, creating new messages and sending Gmail SMS commands from their phones.  

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic