Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cell Phones- Transforming Rural Life

Just saw this wonderful presentation by Iqbal Quadir: The power of the mobile phone to end poverty. Iqbal is the founder of hugely successful Grameen Phone.
I am convinced about the power of Mobile telephony as an effective poverty reduction tool. Experiences like the Grameen Phone have shown that provision of phone connectivity to a village serves several purpose- it leads to the economic development by helping individuals and business gain economic efficiency through communications; it promotes social and economic development for individuals who own and operate the telephone enterprises.
One of the basic principles of the Information Age is that information can be a source of power, efficiency and cost savings.

More specifically for rural markets (an important and growing market for most products and services including telecom),the characteristics of the market in terms of low and spread out population and limited purchasing power make it a difficult market to capture. The Bottom of the pyramid marketing strategies and the 4 A's model of Availability, Affordability, Acceptability and Awareness is the solution here.
Successful cases like the Grameen Phone in Bangladesh and Smart Communications Inc in Philippines also provide us with some guidelines to tackle this issue.
Infact the benefits of mobile telephony can be grouped under three categories: (a) direct benefits; (b) indirect benefits; and (d) intangible benefits
Direct Benefits :Mobile telephony has a positive impact on the economic welfare in the following direct ways: (a) by generating GDP; (b) by job generation (both in the mobile industry and the wider economy); (c) productivity increases; and (d) taxation revenue (mobile operators are usually a sizeable contributor).
Indirect Benefits :In addition to revenue generation, the use of a mobile phone can itself produce follow-on economic and social benefit, e.g., enhance entrepreneurship, reduce information asymmetries and market inefficiencies and substitute transportation (resulting in another knock-on effect)
Intangible benefits: the mobile phone as a tool for: (a) aiding disaster relief; (b) enabling the dissemination of locally-generated and locally-relevant educational and health information; and (c) promoting social capital and social cohesion.
These examples point to a pressing need and an exciting challenge, representing a unique three dimensional convergence of technological capability, economic opportunity and societal need.

No comments: