27 January 2011

Not Just Talk ~ Mobiles in Developing Countries

The Economist writes that mobile services in poor countries are Not Just Talk...
"[Anti-counterfeiting using mobiles and scratch-codes] is just one of many such services mushrooming in poor countries, using mobile-phone technology that once carried only humble voice and text messages. Rohan Samarajiva, the boss of LIRNEasia, a think-tank in Sri Lanka, calls it “more than mobile”. Jussi Hinkkanen, Nokia’s head of policy in Africa, says the mobile revolution is moving “from ear to hand”. [...] Classifying mobile services in poor countries is not an exact science. Richard Heeks, director of the Centre of Development Informatics at the University of Manchester, sorts them by their impact on development. One category is services that “connect the excluded” [which includes market pricing, trading platforms, educational services, SME services...] A second category of services includes those that cut out the middleman, or at least keep tabs on him. This is especially helpful in using government services [which includes deeds, mobile money, branchless banking...] A third, perhaps even more promising category is “crowdvoicing” [including civic engagement, health logistics, jobsourcing...] A fourth and last category hardly exists yet, but could prove the most important, says Mr Heeks: platforms that allow the world’s poor to “appropriate the technology and start applying it in new ways” [for cheap or free messaging, simple signaling, and other apps we can't yet dream of...]"
Extra shout out to the MIT alum entrepreneurial ventures mentioned in the article CellBazaar and txtEagle!

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