Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mobile Phone - the New Terminal

The mobile phone really is the "new terminal".

For us Westerners, the land line phone is a staple which of course every family and business has. Did you know that on planet earth there are about 2.7 Billion mobile phones versus 1.2 Billion land line phones?
The democratization of communication is changing the way the world works. India adds 12 million new mobile subscribers every 3 months, Africa registers 7000 new users each day. Still this represents less than 20% of their respective populations. The relatively low investment in wireless technology will ensure that this growth continues unabated.

This phenomenon opens up the possibility of improving the planet! How? Communication (read information...) really is power. The Congo had its first democratic election this year. There were over 60 candidates to choose from. Before mobile phones enabled access to information, this process would have been a farce. Many of the cities & towns have no roads connecting them.

Previously, most of the individuals in the developing countries were relatively faceless, but now we can reach them as individuals. By bringing the countless millions of people access to information and encouraging them to participate formally in the economy, we have a tremendous opportunity to affect the overall standard of living in the developing countries.

By identifying and communicating with people, who previously were unreachable, we can bring them into the formal economy by engaging in group efforts like the South Africans have started. A government encouraged initiative called Mzansi.

"South Africa's four major retail banks - Absa, First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank - as well as Postbank offer the Mzansi account.

Along with "container branches" and mini-ATMs in townships and rural areas, Mzansi is an initiative by the country's banks to put full-service banking within at most 15 kilometres of all South Africans, and an automatic teller machine (ATM) within at most 10km of their homes.

"South Africa compared with other developing countries is on the right track in banking its bankable population," the Banking Association says in a statement.

According to the association, about 13-million South Africans were "unbanked" at the time of Mzansi's launch. In the seven months between October 2004 and May 2005, an additional four percentage points of the population was banked via the Mzansi account, placing the country on a par with Argentina and a step away from Malaysia."

Now if we could only reach all of those unbanked who already have a mobile phone....

Trying to make a difference!

No comments:

Post a Comment