Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Cell Phones for Development

The significance of cell phones for isolated communities and different applications of mobile technology have been the subjects of much debate both for users and developers. We already know that cell phone technology has enabled lots of people in remote areas to access bank accounts and government services. But here is a new one: a recent paper creates a model that predicts that cell phones in Niger will lead to a reduction in price dispersion. This would be true since cell phones enable grain traders to perform searches for better prices in areas where it would otherwise be too costly to search. Software developers on the other hand are using Google platform to develop open software for the next generation of mobile phone operating environment.

Taking that further, a new paper suggests that an increase in competition policy in sub-Saharan Africa, to at least the identical level as that of the best-performing countries in the region, could almost double overall cell phone coverage. However, the authors highlight that more targeted work would need to be done to reduce the digital divided between rural and relatively dense areas.

"Eventually there will be more cell phone users than people who read and write," says Eric Schmidt, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Google in a recent article by the Washington Post. The piece has some interesting facts about how cell phone technology grew so fast since its creation that no one could foresee the magnitude of this growth.

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