ideas, innovations and apps for social work in the age of smartphones and social media
by Eric Tyler, http://assets.newamerica.net
If there could be a competition for the technology device with the fastest adoption in the developing world, mobile phones far and away would take first place. From 2003 to 2009, in Least Developed Countries, average penetration of mobile subscriptions rose from 2 per 100 inhabitants to 25 per 100 inhabitants (with this penetration likely being higher due to numerous mobile users and multiple SIM cards per single phone). To put this into perspective, a report from the United Nations University concluded that more people in India have access to mobile phones than bathrooms. Globally, by the end of this year, there will be an estimated 5.3 billion mobile cellular subscriptions; more astoundingly, the developing world will account for more than two-thirds of these subscriptions. No such technology has ever seen such a rapid rate of adoption according to the International Telecommunication Union, and the developing world is leading the way.
So how is this ubiquitous device being leveraged as a tool for poverty reduction?
Just as the winners of the Apps 4 Africa Competition demonstrated, mobile phones can be utilized by those living in poverty in a number of different ways…
Mobile phones provide those living in poverty with an opportunity to be their own problem solvers, business entrepreneurs and aid workers. Connectivity and creativity have transformed mobile phones from a technology device into a tool of economic empowerment, and their rapid spread in recent years have established it as a powerful tool of 21st century poverty alleviation.