Now this is a very cool idea and a great equaliser of sorts. From Engadget:
Smartphones and email-equipped feature phones have proliferated in even the most resource-dry areas of Asia, Europe and North America, but for many subscribers in Africa, SMS is the only option for text-based communication on the go. And, to give residents a more consistent method for reading and responding to email from their mobiles, Google just launched Gmail SMS in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. To sign up, simply head over to the “Phone and SMS” settings page in Gmail, add your mobile number and complete a verification process. Once enrolled, the service will automatically forward all email to devices as text messages. The service could even be useful for those that do have access to Android, iOS or Windows Phone devices — data outages can cripple smartphones, forcing users to turn to phone calls and SMS to connect with family, friends and colleagues. Geva Rechav, a Google product manager for emerging markets, confirmed in a blog post that Gmail SMS messages will be free to receive, but standard fees will apply for outgoing emails.