17 September 2007

Upwardly Mobile In Africa

I think it is wonderful that telecoms in developing countries are getting more attention. The latest article is this one in BusinessWeek, which discusses how telecommunications can revolutionize life in rural developing countries. The article also highlights some of the business details that make this possible, including:

  • The ability to purchase minutes in very small increments
  • The availability of inexpensive telephone instruments

As the article points out, these networks can be good buisness and have fostered new ways of interacting, including sending money using minutes.


Luai Hasnawi said...

There is a point I want to share with you. Which is the aim of this network. Since we live in the capitalism and globalization era, everyone in the world will easily make business anywhere around the globe. In another word, doors are opened. But, what is the purpose of this cell phones in such poor countries (Kenya, Tanzania) is it to help people or to increase the profit to rich people ? I hope that those people will use this network to increase their income not to increase someone else's income. In another word, use it in the right way.

It is very nice to see poor people (maybe not well educated) use the cell phones technology in the right way. compared to the people in my country (Saudi Arabia), people really abuse cell phone service. I need someone to tell me what is the point of watching TV channels in a cell phones? Another example in misusing the cell phones is the MMS. I am not complaining about the services that the GSM-3G system provide but I am complaining about the misuse from the subscribers. I wish I can go to Africa and see how these people work extremely hard to make $2 a day so I will appreciate the money that I earn with low effort.

jesus said...

Technology is a A double-edged sword, on one hand can help to improve people's knowledge, in this case since people can talk to people in other parts of the world, they are not isolated anymore and at some extend they help people to grow their business, at this point i have to agree with Luai's comment int he sense that the access to technology is restricted to people who can afford it, which in Africa i don't think is many people. There are more people who worries more about what they are going to eat the next day rather than worrying about talking to somebody outside their communities.

with this i'm not saying that poor people do not get any benefit, for instance, they talk about small businesses growing, those growing businesses can employ more people to continue growing, although it is true that the owner is the one making more money, it is also true that other people got a small percentage of the revenues.

sorry Luai I can't answer your question of why people need to watch TV in their cell phones, the only think I could say is that entertainment is one of the most primitive instincts of human beings. So, if it is legal and they are willing to pay for the service we better have to provide it or somebody else will provide it anyways.

summitraj said...

Telecommunication has become a necessity more than a luxury. The ability to communicate from a distance can solve many difficulties in life, as illustrated in the article. With affordable service and cheap phones, telecom facilities can be equally utilized by the rich and the poor.

Wireless telephony is the enabling technology that has made such a cheap service possible, making life easier in the most rural and poor places.

Although this article only talks about wireless telephony, I would like to share with you a related story from my country in which I was also involved for a brief period of time. In this mountainous village in the Myagdi district of Nepal, wireless technology has enabled the villagers to make use of the internet, VoIP, and video conferencing in providing services like tele-education and tele-medicine.

Find out more in Nepal Wireless Project

Martin Weiss said...

I think it is good that firms can operate a system profitably. That provides incentive for entry, continuing operation, and system upgrades. If the profits are extraordinary, it will both discourage use and encourage competitive entry.

I'm not sure that I would characterize watching TV on a mobile phone as abuse or misuse. People do this because they can and are both willing and able to do so. There are clearly inequities in the world, and it doesn't stop with telecoms.

Thanks for the Nepal link. That is interesting!