The number one pervading problem in impoverished countries- particularly those in Africa- is isolation. People in rural villages are so cut off from the rest of the world- internet is still unheard of in many locales- that the circulation of money only occurs in the village or when a few residents venture to a more urbanised area, usually by foot.
What can be done about this problem? The introduction of mobile phones to these regions. There have been several successful trials so far, solidifying the benefits of mobile phone usage in poorer communities.
Take Kenya, for example. Safaricom, a telecommunications company based in Kenya that was started in 2000, initially only had 17,000 users. Over a decade later, Safaricom is now providing low-cost mobile phone services to over eighteen million Kenyans. Meanwhile, statistics from the International Telecommunications Union discovered that there has been an explosion in African economies since the year 2000, in spite of the global economic crisis occurring on other continents such as Europe and North America.
Is there really a correlation between expanded mobile phone usage and economic growth? Experts seem to agree: yes. This seems to be the case, as many African countries are now using mobile phones as means of paying for goods, instead of resorting to tangible currency exchanges. This makes cash exchanges much easier, allowing the flow of money in a given economy to expand due to the diminished restrictions on location.
M-PESA, a transactional service started by a U.K. company, is responsible for the majority of these money exchanges. It works much like mobile banking transactions, except these users are transferring between mobile phones. A World Bank report in 2010 discovered that 10% of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) was circulated via M-PESA. These means higher consumer activity in the region, leading to more growth and prosperity overall.
But there are other uses for mobile phones in the fight against poverty as well. For farmers and livestock raisers, travelling several days by foot to the nearest city in hopes of making a decent profit from your goods and livestock is no longer done in vain. With mobile phones, they can call ahead and essentially do a price comparison between several nearby cities to determine the best market rate for their goods and plan their travels based off of this information.
So, how are people in impoverished nations getting access to mobile phones, anyway? With the low cost of constructing mobile phone towers and creating the actual devices, providing these services is no problem at all for companies that have been formulating in the African region. Instead of complex contracts, most people in these developing countries are buying pre-paid mobile phone cards and using their affordable devices to transfer funds from buyer to seller.
The United Nations has taken note of the historical success of mobile phones in poverty-stricken areas, and has since pledged to bring mobile phone services to at least three million people in South Asia and African countries by the year 2013. This is a part of the Millennium Project, and once this goal has been reached, further steps will be taken to bring these countries out of poverty and up to speed- technologically speaking- with the rest of the world.
Author bio: This article is from Will from www.mobilephonefinder.com.au.