Mobiles for all!

In: Uncategorized

30 Aug 2008

Jeffrey Sachs writes in an article for Project Syndicate on the spread of mobile phones in the world’s poorer countries:

“market penetration in poor countries is rising sharply. India has around 300 million subscribers, with subscriptions rising by a stunning eight million or more per month. Brazil now has more than 130 million subscribers, and Indonesia has roughly 120 million. In Africa, which contains the world’s poorest countries, the market is soaring, with more than 280 million subscribers.

“Mobile phones are now ubiquitous in villages as well as cities. If an individual does not have a cell phone, they almost surely know someone who does. Probably a significant majority of Africans have at least emergency access to a cell phone, either their own, a neighbor’s, or one at a commercial kiosk.

“Even more remarkable is the continuing “convergence” of digital information: wireless systems increasingly link mobile phones with the Internet, personal computers, and information services of all kinds. The array of benefits is stunning. The rural poor in more and more of the world now have access to wireless banking and payments systems, such as Kenya’s famous M-PESA system, which allows money transfers through the phone. The information carried on the new networks spans public health, medical care, education, banking, commerce, and entertainment, in addition to communications among family and friends.”