information for example about employment opportunities, securing remittances, findinghousing etc. (Skuse & Cousins, 2008) Such social networks are key where the informaleconomy predominates.
The ‘social’ use of phones has
also been seen in several other studies. Zainudeen,Samarajiva and Abeysuriya (2005), in a study conducted among financially constrained usersin several localities in India and Sri Lanka found that the large majority of phone use was for
‘keeping in touch’ with f
amily and friends rather than instrumental uses such as business andfinancial transactions. Bayes et al. (1999) also
cite ‘social cohesion’ availed of by telecom
users, especially in the case of Bangladesh where many families have members workingabroad.
Such ‘social’ use is not to be considered ‘
; as the mere ability of families tostay in touch contributes to better quality of life. Bayes et al (1999) also note the non-economic benefits of phone access in rural Bangladeshi villages, such as improved lawenforcement, disaster-communication, and increased social kinship.On the whole, there appears to be a dearth of empirical evidence of the economic benefits ofaccess to telecom among the wider populace in developing countries, as well as developedcountries, at least available in the English language. Aside from empirical studies reportedhere, it is difficult to find substantial empirical evidence of benefits of telecom access onincome; much of the evidence of income impacts at the BOP is anecdotal. For instance,NOKIA (2006, p.4) reports of fishermen in Porto da Manga, Br
azil availing of ‘100
cent’ increases in revenues through improved catches and reduced storage losses enabled
by communication with other fishermen as well as wholesalers through mobile phones. Asimilar phenomenon is seen among fishermen in Moree, Ghana, where mobiles are
reportedly improving living standards, by allowing fishermen to cut out the ‘middle man’ (or
women in this case) and increase their earnings (mobileafrica.net, December 2005)
. A study
by de Silva (2005) on a project at Sri Lanka’s largest wholesale agricultural market, where
produce prices were available through an automated voice system accessible through mobilephones found that most farmers believed that they were able to get accurate prices throughthe system over the phone empowering them to bargain for higher prices.
Kantipuronline.com (October 2006) reports of farmers in rural Nepal being saved 3 hour journeys by foot to the nearest phone, allowing them to spend more time seeing to daily faractivities;
i4d Magazine reports of agricultural and veterinary advice being made availablethrough the phone in local languages to farmers in villages in Northern India (i4d, September2006).
Further empirical evidence at this micro-level is sparse; this paper attempts to contribute tothe empirical literature at such a level, by examining the perceived benefits of direct access totelecom at the BOP.When examining existing studies which attempt to estimate the elasticities of demand, twofacts become clear. Firstly, much of the existing research into elasticity calculations is focusedon the developed world. Secondly, many of the studies are based on aggregate-level data,rather than either at the household or user-
level. Milne notes that ‘
national studies withsizeable samples give very much more reliable and applicable estimates than international
studies; the latter mainly indicate orders of magnitude and directions of change’
(2006: 32).Of the limited research available on the developing world, Waverman et al (2005) estimatethe price elasticity of demand (PED) for mobile phones, using data from 38 developingcountries from 1996-2003. They find the demand to be rather elastic, with a PED of -1.5 givena mobile penetration of 8 percent. Frontier Economics (in a study for the GSMA) estimate theprice elasticity for minutes of use (MOU) of -0.76 for prepaid MOUs, and -0.54 for post-paidMOUs in developing countries (GSMA, 2005; Appendix 2). Again, aggregate numbers are
mobileafrica.com (December 2005)
Mobile Phone: A Tool For Modern Fishermen In Ghana
, by Mawutodzi K.Abissath
Kantipuronline.com (October 2006)
Hills are alive with the sound of cell phones
i4d (September 2006)
Soochna Se Samadhan Sewa