Google on Monday launched a new search service designed to provide users with information via SMS text message to mobile phone users in Africa.

At Google we seek to serve a broad base of people - not only those who can afford to access the internet from the convenience of their workplace or with a computer at home, the Mountain View, California, company said in a blog post.

It's important to reach users wherever they are, with the information they need, in areas with the greatest information poverty, Google said.

Africa, which according to Google's official blog, has the world's highest mobile growth rate and that mobile use on the continent is six times higher than Internet penetration.

Most mobile devices in Africa only have voice and SMS capabilities, and so we are focusing our technological efforts in that continent on SMS, it said.

Google said Google SMS, which will be available first in Uganda, would provide information, via SMS, on a number of topics including health and agriculture tips, news, local weather and sports.

Other SMS-based features include Google Trader, where users in Africa can find, 'sell' or 'buy' any type of product or service, from used cars and mobile phones to crops, livestock and jobs.

The new service also offers Google SMS Tips, a question and answer based service, which seems to be the most sophisticated of these services. The service interprets search queries and doesn't just return a list of links, but instead tries to compute the query and return a relevant answer to a question.