CLEMMONS, N.C. — In 2013, entrepreneur Iqbal Quadir delivered a Ted Talk that addressed the notion that mobile phones, or cellphones, could be used to help combat global poverty. Using his own personal experiences of building a franchise, Quadir highlighted the idea that connectivity equates to productivity.
When cellphones are connecting people, they can lead toward mass production in several variations. For example, people become connected to one another, which can lead to more economic stability and productivity. This creates more businesses and jobs for people in developing countries.
The phone can be used as a weapon against poverty.
Phones have a way of connecting individuals and people, and by being used as a form of connection, many doors can be opened for people in impoverished nations.
The more connectivity the public has, the more productive the world can be. This excels not only for the Internet and telecommunication regions, but also for areas of transportation and the physical location of shops and businesses.
The cell phone also alleviates long-distance transportation, since people can use their cellphones for market purchasing and for finding out which goods will be sold in the market, rather than making long-distance travels to their designated area for buying goods.
Mobile technologies offer a simple method to empower the impoverished to take a hold of their own future. By giving them the freedom to communicate, they become more empowered to build a democracy of their own.
According to USAID, mobile phones strengthen democracy. In Haiti and Tunisia, USAID used mobile phones to provide citizens with important information on polling locations and voting procedures by the process of short message services, or SMS.
Interestingly enough, not only does democratic freedom become an asset with communication, but cellphone usage also creates a shared continuous access to governmental services, health care, education, business, financial services and markets.
Affordable mobile phone access has caused an increase in services, like calling for medical help, sending a quick letter to loved ones or starting a savings account.
The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action used mobile phones to provide mothers without access to clinics vital health information about pregnancy, childbirth and the first year of life.
Another reason why cellphones are a thriving contribution to the alleviation of poverty is because of the safety people gain when they are in control of their own businesses, bank accounts and communication methods.
For instance, a USAID supported program allows people to text incidents of violence, which are generated on a map so people know the dangerous areas to avoid. The system works in various countries, including Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
With the value of production, an increased amount of gross domestic product is raised in developing countries as a result of cellphone technology.
An increase of 10 percent in mobile penetration can raise the annual GDP growth rate by as much as 1.2 percent in a developing country.
“The growth of GDP in Kenya would be half what it was the past 10 years if it wasn’t for the mobile phone,” said Michael Joseph, former CEO of Safaricom.
By being more connected, the world can be more productive, which can lead to more innovation and a reduction in poverty.
– Noor Siddiqui