This paper investigates the impact of mobile phones in situations of political contestation or conflict. According to theory, mobile phones could play a positive role in building a more accountable government, and with that, contribute to statebuilding. We examine to what extent this hypothesis holds true for ordinary citizens in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State (WES). Using interdisciplinary methods, we use data gathered through in-depth interviews and a quantitative survey and find little evidence that mobile phone coverage contributes to statebuilding or peacebuilding through a causal link between information, voting, political participation and government accountability. In a situation where administrative structures and mechanisms do not exist for citizens to hold politicians accountable, access to mobile phones might mean greater dissatisfaction with political participation and voting. People living in areas without coverage expressed a deep mistrust of government, and appeared to want to withdraw from the system of government entirely.