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Driving Development
with Mobile Phones
For communities in the developing
world, the mobile revolution is
bringing economic power at the
touch of a screen or a keypad
The 2012 report “Maximizing
Mobile” from the World Bank
describes how mobile phones
are addressing development
challenges with applications that
are rooted in the realities of
developing countries
Mobile phones are enabling
people living in rural areas
to buy products, monitor
health conditions, connect
to the Internet, and improve
agricultural practices
By Marishka Noelle M. Cabrera
ppIIcuLIons on mobIIe pIones ure InßuencIng
progress in developing countries in the areas
oI ugrIcuILure, IeuILI, hnuncIuI servIces, und
governunce, uccordIng Lo LIe WorId Bunk, In ILs zo1z
“MuxImIzIng MobIIe” report.
TIe reporL, wrILLen und reseurcIed joInLIy by LIe
ICT Sector Unit and infoDev, u gIobuI purLnersIIp
progrum oI LIe WorId Bunk Group, depurLs Irom u
traditional discussion of information-technology
connecLIvILy, dIscussIng InsLeud ILs uppIIcuLIons und
how information and communication technologies
¨ure beIng used Lo LrunsIorm dĬerenL secLors oI LIe
global economy.”
TIe mobIIe revoIuLIon, LIe reporL posILs, Is
LrunsIormIng IIveIIIoods, IeIpIng Lo creuLe
new busInesses, und cIungIng LIe wuy peopIe
communIcuLe. AILer uII, wILI over sIx bIIIIon mobIIe
:NKcenSEI8KVUXZ ‡September 17-30, 2012
pIone subscrIpLIons uII over LIe gIobe, wIuL IL cuIIs
the “near-ubiquity of mobile phones” can provide
access to content with the capability to empower and
enrich lifestyles.
¡n zo1o, qq% oI LIe popuIuLIon In boLI CIInu (Irom
q¸% In zoo¸) und LIe PIIIIppInes (uncIunged Irom
zoo¸) wus covered by u mobIIe ceIIuIur neLwork,
wIIIe ¡ndIu Iud 8¸% oI ILs popuIuLIon covered Irom
¸1% In zoo¸, Kenyu 8q% Irom 6z%, PukIsLun qz%
Irom ¸6%, und SrI ¡unku q8% Irom 8¸%.
Getting online from the countryside. For
CIInu`s vusL ruruI ureus, mobIIe pIones ure becomIng
LIe devIce oI cIoIce Lo connecL Lo LIe ¡nLerneL, us
discussed in a JuIy sLory In BBC. ¡n LIe reporL, LIe
sLuLe-IInked CIInu ¡nLerneL NeLwork ¡nIormuLIon
CenLer (C¡N¡C) suys over ¸o% oI LIe yeur`s new
Internet users are from the countryside. Internet
access is made more convenient as smart phones
become more ŭordubIe.
¨TIe emergence oI smurLpIones under 1,ooo yuun
|$1¸; or £1oo| sIurpIy Iowered LIe LIresIoId Ior
using the devices and encouraged average mobile
pIone users Lo become mobIIe web surIers,¨ LIe BBC
quotes the CINIC report.
Here are more mobile phone applications that were
deveIoped In LIe conLexL oI IocuI reuIILIes uImed Lo
address challenges in the developing world more
Shopping via SMS. OperuLIng In Ugundu,
Kenyu, NIgerIu, und SouLI AIrIcu, SIImTruder Is
LIe hrsL pIuLIorm oI ILs kInd In AIrIcu LIuL uIIows
consumers to shop for goods and services through
LexL messuges (SMS). A June zo11 reporL from
VentureBeat as part of the series “Conversations
on LIe GIobuI App Economy,¨ sponsored by NokIu,
describes the challenges of consumers in rural areas
with no ready access to real-time information about
the various suppliers.
“The most precious commodity for BOP (bottom
oI pyrumId) Is LIme,¨ SIImTruder CEO ¡emI
AkInde reveuIs In LIe reporL. And wIen purcIusIng
someLIIng us common us u LrunsporLuLIon LIckeL
cun Luke up un enLIre duy, convenIences sucI us
LIose LIuL cun IInk u user Lo LIe InvenLory, orderIng,
and payment databases of participating businesses
go a long way. Users can then inquire about the
uvuIIubIIILy oI producLs und muke LIeIr purcIuses by
sending an SMS. Payment is made through mobile
The infographic depicts how mobile phone services
are being adopted in the developing world, page 9,
‘Maximizing MobiIe’
Driving development with mobile phones
31 cenSEI
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servIces, sucI us M-PESA, AIrLeI, MTN, MobIIe
Money, und ¡nLerswILcI.
¡n ruruI ¡ndIu, Iew busInesses ure ubIe Lo reucI
smuII vIIIuges oI ¸,ooo peopIe or Iess. ¡euLured In
a MurcI zo11 BBC sLory, UnILed VIIIuges Is u ruruI
suppIy compuny LIuL beIIeves IL cun hII LIe gup In LIe
counLry`s ruruI suppIy cIuIn by IInkIng bIg busInesses
to even the smallest of villages.
AccordIng Lo LIe reporL, LIe compuny Ius so Iur buIIL
u dIsLrIbuLIon neLwork cuLerIng Lo more LIun ;oo
ruruI reLuIIers. TIe sysLem begIns us u heId ȯcer
Lukes orders Irom reLuIIers, wIres LIem Lo u cenLruI
wureIouse wILI u mobIIe upp, und LIen producLs
ure deIIvered Lo LIe IocuI sLores. PrIor Lo LIe servIce,
some store owners had to close their shops in order to
LruveI Lo LIe neuresL murkeL, wIIcI Is normuIIy ¸o Lo
qo km uwuy, Lo purcIuse suppIIes.
Electronic wallets and mobile money.
Philippine telecom giants Smart Communications
and Globe Telecom boLI ŏer ¨eIecLronIc wuIIeLs,¨ In
the form of Smart Money and GCash, respecLIveIy,
LIuL uIIow subscrIbers Lo send und wILIdruw money,
puy bIIIs, sIop, receIve remILLunces, donuLe Lo
cIurILy, und reIoud prepuId uccounLs In u secure und
convenient way.
The United States Agency for International
Development (USAID) has launched a mobile
bunkIng projecL In LIe PIIIIppInes uImed uL expundIng
uccess Lo hnuncIuI servIces us purL oI LIe ugency`s
Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money (SIMM)
projecL, us unnounced In u SepLember 8 Philippine
Daily Inquirer reporL. Due Lo LIe PIIIIppInes` IIgI
peneLruLIon ruLe oI mobIIe pIone subscrIbers, LIe
projecL Iopes Lo brIdge LIe gup Ior ¡IIIpInos wIo do
noL Iuve uccess Lo bunks. Key ureus Ior LIe projecL
IncIude puymenL sysLem, governmenL servIces, und
electronic payroll distribution.
MeunwIIIe, Kenyu Ius been uLIIIzIng mobIIe money
Lo send money Lo reIuLIves In remoLe ureus, puy Ior
uLIIILy bIIIs und LuxI Iures, or Lo ensure LIe smooLI
ßow oI busIness operuLIons sInce zoo;. A joInL
venLure beLween LeIecom gIunL VoduIone und Kenyu`s
SuIurIcom, M-PESA (M sLunds Ior ¨mobIIe¨ und Pesu
Is SwuIIII Ior ¨money¨) Is LIe hrsL Lo operuLe on u
Iurge scuIe, uccordIng Lo u November zo1o sLory on
the BBC site.
TIe sysLem works by IuvIng cusLomers regIsLer wILI
Safaricom at an M-Pesa outlet before they can load
money onto their phone. The money is then sent to a
LIIrd purLy vIu LexL messuge, und LIe recIpIenL Lukes
LIe pIone Lo LIeIr neuresL vendor Lo pIck up LIe cusI.
Mobile phones foster better crop prices, even
better crops. Small-scale agriculture in Africa gets
u boosL Irom mobIIe pIones, us dIscussed In LIe sILe
How We Made it in Africa. By uddressIng LIe Iuck oI
LrunspurenL InIormuLIon ubouL LIe murkeL (wIoIesuIe
und reLuII) prIces oI crops, mobIIe pIone-bused
services are allowing farmers to “negotiate better
deuIs wILI Lruders,¨ us weII us ¨Improve LIe LImIng oI
geLLIng LIeIr crops Lo LIe murkeL¨ wILI u sImpIe LexL
Beyond provIdIng murkeL InIormuLIon, compunIes IIke
Kenyu`s M-¡urm enubIes Iurmers ¨Lo group LogeLIer
LIrougI LIeIr mobIIe pIones Lo ŏer exporLers und
big retailers large quantities of crops” and to “save on
The mobile revolution is
transforming livelihoods,
helping to create new
businesses, and changing the
way people communicate
:NKcenSEI8KVUXZ ‡September 17-30, 2012
the cost of inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides by
buyIng In buIk.¨ Access Lo ugrIcuILure Insurunce und
information about improving farming practices are
uIso beIng ŏered LIrougI mobIIe pIones.
A device called Nano Ganesh is a phone-controlled
water pump-starter that is allowing Indian farmers to
wuLer LIeIr crops remoLeIy, us descrIbed In un August
zo1o article in The Atlantic. TIe devIce, wIIcI cosLs
beLween $1z-$z68 (dependIng on LIe modeI), Is
connected to both a mobile phone and an electric
water pump. The user then calls that phone and
enters a code to start it up. With other companies
rIdIng LIe wuve oI mobIIe InnovuLIon, Iurmers cun
now rely on timely weather information and farming
and disease control techniques to be sent to them.
Going mobile for inclusive growth
In a January 2011 study, global consultancy frm Deloitte posits that in the coming years, India`s rural
areas will fuel growth in mobile phone services, due in part to low rural penetration levels. The study,
produced jointly by Deloitte and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, takes
off from the idea that Mobile Value Added Services (MVAS) have the potential to be used in areas in
order to "bridge the digital divide and to foster inclusive growth in India." As such, the study focuses on
understanding the current and future state of MVAS in the country, as well as key drivers, challenges,
and solutions.
The study identifed the following key drivers for MVAS:
1. Government mandate for inclusive growth
2. Increasing mobile phone, and network penetration
3. Need for differentiation among telecom operators and device manufacturers
4. Increasing consumer demand and awareness, even in non-urban areas
5. Business need of service providers such as hospitals and banks
6. Automation due to Information and Communications Technology
The study also identifed three broad categories of MVAS:
1. Information-based services, involving one-way dissemination of information, e.g., epidemic alerts,
disaster management updates, etc.
2. Application-based services, which involve interactivity and require the consumer to play an active role,
such as in checking the status of payments, IVR (interactive voice response)-based language training
services, etc.
3. Enablement services, which provide close substitutes for services usually provided by a physical
infrastructure, such as a bank or a school, e.g., person-to-person payments, travel reservations, etc.
Moving past text messaging, the study discusses what it refers to as "utility MVAS," services that seek
to digitally empower citizens by providing effcient access to essential information and basic services. It
identifes four categories of mobile value-added services - M-Commerce, M-Education, M-Health, and
M-Governance – all of which will require extensive cooperation between government, regulators, service
providers, and stakeholders.
Driving development with mobile phones
33 cenSEI
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Mobile phones help teach children.
Researchers with the Mobile and Immersive
Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies
(M¡¡¡EE) ProjecL ure usIng mobIIe pIones Lo LeucI
cIIIdren In ruruI CIInu Iow Lo reud, uccordIng Lo
a zo1o reporL from Wired. The MILLEE research
projecL uIms Lo enIunce uccess Lo IILerucy umong
children in the developing world. Inspired by
LrudILIonuI CIInese cIIIdren`s gumes, scIoIurs Irom
CurnegIe MeIIon, UnIversILy oI CuIIIornIu-BerkeIey,
and the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed
two mobile learning games: Multimedia Word and
DrummIng SLroke.
MW, LIe reporL suys, gIves IInLs-u skeLcI, cIues Ior
pronuncIuLIon, or u pIoLo-Ior cIIIdren Lo be ubIe Lo
recognIze cIurucLers. ¡n DrummIng SLroke, pIuyers
“pass the mobile phone to one another to the rhythm
oI u pIone-generuLed drum sound,¨ und eucI one
¨wrILes one sLroke oI u gIven CIInese cIurucLer by
IoIIowIng LIe exucL sLroke order.¨
¡n LIe PIIIIppInes, LeucIers ure muxImIzIng LIe
poLenLIuI oI mobIIe pIones LIrougI LIe TexLzTeucI
projecL. ¡n u MurcI zooq urLIcIe in Philippine Daily
Inquirer, LIe InILIuLIve uIms Lo brIng InLerucLIve,
multimedia educational materials that enhance
LIe sLudenL`s IeurnIng experIence. WILI LIe use oI
u NokIu Nq¸ 8GB mobIIe pIone, wIIcI u LeucIer
pIugs InLo u TV In LIe cIussroom, ¨¸8; InLerucLIve,
educuLIonuI vIdeos In muLI, scIence und EngIIsI
are preloaded into the phones for the teachers to
use in class.”
¡n purLnersIIp wILI LIe DepurLmenL oI EducuLIon,
NokIu, AyuIu ¡ounduLIon, GIobe TeIecom, und
Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization
Regional Center for Educational Innovation and
TecInoIogIes (SEAMEO ¡NNOTECH), LIe non-prohL
program Ius now reucIed ¸¸; scIooIs und LruIned
more LIun 1,6oo LeucIers nuLIonwIde sInce IL begun
In zoo¸, us noLed In a release published in Sun Star
Cebu In MurcI zo1z.
Citizen journalism powered by mobile
telecommunications. During the height
of a violent Maoist insurgency in the Indian
sLuLe oI CIIuLLIsgurI, journuIIsL SIubIrunsIu
CIoudIury Iud Lo hnd u wuy Lo geL LIe voIces oI LIe
“disenfranchised indigenous communities” out to the
nuLIonuI medIu, us reporLed In u February story in
CNN. As u KnIgIL ¡nLernuLIonuI JournuIIsm ¡eIIow,
he drew the support from the International Center
Ior JournuIIsLs, wIere Ie begun un experImenL In
cILIzen journuIIsm.
CGNet Swara is “a voice portal that allows anyone
with a mobile phone to record or listen to news and
ILems oI InLeresL.¨ Upon dIuIIng LIe servIce`s number,
users press ¨1¨ Lo record u reporL, or ¨z¨ Lo IIsLen Lo
IL. Once u reporL Ius been recorded, IL Is ¨verIhed und
edited by a team of moderators before being made
uccessIbIe on LIe servIce,¨ LIe CNN reporL quuIIhes.
Even In muInsLreum medIu, cILIzen journuIIsm
Is guInIng popuIurILy. GMA NeLwork`s YouScoop
empowers ordinary Filipinos to share newsworthy
sLorIes wILI LIe use oI LIeIr mobIIe pIones. By LukIng
a photo or a video and sending it either via the Web
or LIrougI u mobIIe pIone, sLorIes muy be uIred on
GMA News TV or published on GMA News Online.
Mobile tech is paving a way for more
efñcient heaIth care. ¡nnovuLIons In uwureness,
prevenLIon, dIugnosIs, und LreuLmenL ure mude
possible with the ubiquity of mobile phones in
deveIoped und deveIopIng counLrIes. A Muy zo1z
urLIcIe, ¨How Mobile Devices are Transforming
Healthcare,¨ by DurreII M. WesL oI LIe CenLer Ior
TecInoIogy ¡nnovuLIon uL LIe BrookIngs ¡nsLILuLIon,
discusses the various ways in which mobile
LecInoIogy Is uppIIed In dĬerenL counLrIes, sucI us:
:NKcenSEI8KVUXZ ‡September 17-30, 2012
reporLIng dengue ouLbreuks In ¡ndIu und SrI
¡unku, remIndIng LubercuIosIs puLIenLs Lo Luke
LIe prescrIbed RIIuIoI medIcIne In SouLI AIrIcu,
udvIsIng pregnunL women durIng LIe dĬerenL
sLuges oI pregnuncy In LIe UnILed SLuLes,
recording and transmitting patient information
In remoLe purLs oI Jupun, gIvIng quIck dIugnosIs
und suggesLed LreuLmenLs In ruruI MuIuwI,
among several other applications.
More LIun mukIng IIves In LIe deveIopIng worId
u IILLIe bIL beLLer, AmerIcun economIsL Jĕrey
Sachs believes in the role of mobile phones
In endIng exLreme poverLy, us Ie expIuIns In
a video in the site Global Envision. “If every
vIIIuge,¨ LIe proIessor und dIrecLor oI LIe EurLI
¡nsLILuLe In CoIumbIu UnIversILy suys, ¨Iud
wIreIess connecLIvILy, und IL Iud compuLers
In |scIooIs, cIInIcs, communILy cenLers, und
Iurmer cooperuLIves|, |und| II communILy
IeuILI workers or ugrIcuILure workers were
curryIng LIeIr ceIIpIones, InLerconnecLed wILI
LIe compuLers, LIere`d be no sucI LIIng us
economic isolation anymore.”

American economist Jeffrey Sachs suggests
economic isolation may end if people living in
far-ñung areas had mobiIe devices and wireIess
connectivity Global Envision
News & Strategy Alerts
Legal disputes over Internet domain names could rise
LIIs yeur, IurgeIy drIven by CIInese cybersquuLLers,
according to a PC World article that details the
hndIngs oI u reporL by IeguI hrm SweeL & MuxweII.
Cybersquatting “involves the pre-emptive registration
oI Lrudemurks by LIIrd purLIes us domuIn numes¨ In
order Lo ¨expIoIL LIe hrsL-come, hrsL-served nuLure
of the domain name registration system to register
numes oI Lrudemurks, Iumous peopIe or busInesses
wILI wIIcI LIey Iuve no connecLIon,¨ uccordIng Lo
the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
CybersquuLLers LIen uucLIon LIe domuIns, seII LIem
directly to the person or organization involved at
InßuLed prIces, or keep LIe regIsLruLIon und use LIe
name of the concerned person or company to attract
business to their own sites.
¡Igures cILed In LIe SweeL & MuxweII reporL, enLILIed
¨DomuIn Numes: GIobuI PrucLIce und Procedure,¨
sIow LIuL dIspuLes udjudIcuLed by LIe W¡PO
numbered z,qqq In Junuury Lo JuIy zo1z uIone. TIIs
represenLs u 6% rIse Irom LIe z,;;¸ cuses In LIe sume
period last year.
Domain disputes on
the rise due to Chinese
Businesses shouId be vigiIant against
cybersquatters and take steps to
protect their companies online, such
as through preventive purchases of
domain names for their brands and
Passing into law a Cybercrime
Prevention Law will help curb
cybersquatting in the Philippines