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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Here's how mobile phones are revolutionizing the third world

In the Western World we all know how much of an impact mobile phones have on day-to-day living, whether you are using a sat nav to travel to work, an app to order your lunch or SMS to keep in touch with family and friends.

In the developing world, the mobile phone is revolutionizing everything from communication to currency exchange, as it becomes a major part in how these communities grow.

Mobile phones in India

In India, local people are able to share information and create news by calling in to their media outlets and reporting on local events themselves. Their reports are checked and then rebroadcast, often with the local reporter's call being used in the story.

These rebroadcasts can be found on the Internet or even accessed through the handset. This is allowing many people to have access to news and current affairs in regions where it was impossible before. India also has an initiative that allows people to report corruption, report crime, and register to vote via their mobile.

Mobile phones in Africa

Mobile phone technology
Mobile commerce facilitates cashless transactions
In parts of Africa, mobile phones are being used instead of currency. Kenya is leading the way with mobile company Safaricom handling billions of shillings of Kenyan currency every year. Users simply load their mobile virtual account, by paying cash to their shopkeeper, and then transfer it for goods and services via text message.

The recipient then uses the secret code, contained within the text, to claim the money back when they cash in. Many Kenyans believe that the money is safer with a cell phone company than it would be with one of their traditional banks and the idea is spreading around Africa.

Your old mobile phone could end up helping somebody register to vote, it could help a villager in India report corruption to the police, or it could help an African in Lesotho to buy their groceries.

Mobile phones & crisis mapping

Another benefit of more mobiles in the developing world is in the use of crisis mapping. After natural disasters, terrorist attacks, wars, or large accidents, governmental agencies can track network usage in order to get a clearer picture of events.

Cell tower data can be monitored to track the movements of large amounts of people, such as refugees, so that the authorities can better plan for them. It may also be monitored in order to track wanted individuals. Other collection can allow for the analysis of data when considering new public transport infrastructure. Big Data is easier to collect if more people have access to mobile networks and your unwanted mobile phone could become part of something much bigger.

Whereas when you owned it, you made calls, sent texts, and surfed the web, in the hands of its new owner it could be used to bring a whole nation forward in ways that you never dreamed of.

In the life of a mobile handset, the time it spent with you might just be a blink of an eye before it moves on to its true calling as a tool for the future development of a nation.

About the author: Craig is an enthusiastic writer who enjoys to cover all topics of mobile phones, from the apps you use on your phone to where phones end up when you no longer need them.

Image: Richard Tanzer Fotografie; CC BY-SA 3.0
"Mobile Payment"