Maximizing Mobiles Benefits (2-3)
This report from the World Bank finds that mobile applications not only empower individuals but have important cascade effects stimulating growth, entrepreneurship, and productivity throughout the economy as a whole. Mobile communications promise to do more than just give the developing world a voice. By unlocking the genie in the phone, they empower people to make their own choices and decisions.
A mobile green revolution
Given the dominance of primary commodities in the economies of many developing countries, chapter 2 explores the all-important area of mobile applications designed to improve incomes, productivity, and yields within the agricultural sector, which accounts for about 40 percent of the workforce and an even greater proportion of exports in many developing countries.
To date, voice calls and SMS text messages have proven invaluable in increasing efficiency in smallholder agriculture.
They can, for example, provide real-time price information and improve the flow of information along the entire value chain, from producers to processors to wholesalers to retailers to consumers. The basic functions of the mobile phone will continue to remain important for reaching the widest number of people, but the focus of applications development is shifting as the underlying technologies evolve.
Today, increasingly specialized mobile services are fulfilling specific agricultural functions, while multimedia imagery is being used to overcome illiteracy and provide complex information regarding weather and climate, pest control, cultivation practices, and agricultural extension services to potentially less tech-savvy farmers. This chapter also examines the emerging uses of remote and satellite technologies that are assisting in food traceability, sensory detection, real-time reporting, and status updates from the field.
It further reviews examples of mobile services in agriculture to draw key learning points and provide direction on how to capitalize on successful examples.
Mobile applications for agriculture and rural development have generally not followed any generic blueprint. They are usually designed locally and for specific target markets, with localized content specific to the languages, crop types, and farming methods. Local design offers exciting opportunities for local content and applications development but may limit the economies of scale realizable from expanding from pilot programs into mass markets, potentially hindering the spread of new and promising applications and services.
The full scope and scale of smartphones and tablets for providing services to agricultural stakeholders have yet to emerge. An enabling environment that can promote the development and use of applications in developing countries must be prioritized to meet the information needs of the agricultural sector.
Keep using the tablets - how mobile devices are changing health care
Some of the key principles and characteristics of mobile for health (mHealth), and how mobiles are helping transform and enhance the delivery of primary and secondary health care services in developing countries.
Mobile health can save money and deliver more effective health care with relatively limited resources; increasingly, it is associated with a focus on prevention of diseases and promotion of healthy lifestyles.
This chapter reviews on-the-ground implementations of medical health care apps to draw key conclusions about how mHealth can best be implemented to serve the needs of people in the developing world, as well as identifying barriers that must be overcome. It considers some of the unique features of the health care sector and the implications for medical apps in areas such as patient privacy and confidentiality, public and private provision of care, and real-time reporting requirements in crisis or emergency situations.
Modern health care systems are at a tipping point, as consumers take on greater responsibility for managing their own health care choices, and mobile phones could enable a shift in the locus of decision-making away from the state and health institutions to individual patients.
The most substantial challenge for mHealth, however, is the establishment of sustainable business models that can be replicated and scaled up. One step toward addressing this challenge might be a clearer delineation of roles within the health ecosystem between public and private health care providers. Another significant challenge is the effective monitoring and evaluation of mobiles in health, as pilot programs continue to proliferate.
This chapter examines the all-important topic of mobile money as a general platform and critical infrastructure underpinning other economic sectors. Mobile money has transformed the Kenyan economy, where mobile-facilitated payments now equate to a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The impact of mobile money is widening elsewhere too, as it is adopted across commerce, health insurance, agricultural banking, and other sectors. Today, the potential of mobile payment systems to “bank the unbanked” and empower the poor through improved access to finance and lower transaction costs is generating growing excitement. Where they exist, mature mobile money systems have often spun off innovative products and services in insurance, credit, and savings.
When connected on a large scale, evidence suggests that the poor are able to use mobile money to improve their livelihoods. Observers remain divided, however, about whether mobile money systems are fulfilling their true growth potential. Innovative offerings, old and new, can succeed only if there is sufficient demand from consumers and firms—a variable missing in many contexts.
The mobile money industry exists at the intersection of banking and telecommunications, embracing a diverse set of stakeholders, including mobile operators, financial services companies, and new entrants (such as payment card firms).
In some countries, mobile money systems may be subject to different regulatory practices and interoperability issues, not to mention clashes in culture between banks and mobile operators, so developing the necessary cross-sectoral partnerships can prove difficult. In other countries, well-developed alternative legacy systems are strong competitors to the development of mobile money systems.
This chapter evaluates the benefits and potential impact of mobile money, especially for promoting financial inclusion in the developing world. It provides an overview of the key factors driving the growth of mobile money services, while considering some of the barriers and obstacles hindering their deployment. Finally, it identifies emerging issues that the industry will face over the coming years.
By Alula Berhe Kidani, 08/08/2012