Improving English vocabulary across Africa using short message service (SMS) on mobile phones

Elvis Austins

Elvis is very passionate about learning and he wishes to give other African children the opportunity to understand the basic English language. Elvis has been suffering from poor English skills himself and decided one day to do something about it. He chose to learn one new word daily from the English dictionary and soon his idea behind his business was born. He noticed that he was building his vocabulary and came up with the idea of using SMS as a tool to improve English skills and started piloting the idea within Nigeria, a country where 65 million people are illiterate.


Elvis took part in Social Entrepreneurship Forum’s SE Outreach Accelerator in 2013.



SpellAfrica Initiative started by adopting SMS as a tool to massively improve the standard education in Africa, starting with English vocabulary. Although smart phones are still very uncommon in Africa, the traditional mobile phone market in this region is growing really fast. SpellAfrica will therefore be able to reach millions of people on the continent using its SMS service. The social impact of SpellAfrica will be to directly improve educational levels through higher English skills, and indirectly to enhance employment opportunities, given the increased demand to master English in the formal job market in Africa. SpellAfrica also works with adult education in Lagos where volunteer and guest teachers are helping adults to learn how to read and write.