Can Mobile Phones Make a Miracle?
March 24th, 2010

RT: Africa Calling: Can Mobile Phones Make a Miracle? paper co-authored by Fletcher’s Jenny Aker, http://is.gd/aWMX9 by Patrick Meier

By Professor Jenny C. Aker and Isaac M. MbitiMarch/April 2010 Edition

Mobile phones are a transformative technology that increases GDP and, quite simply, revolutionizes people’s lives

Ten years ago the 170,000 residents of Zinder were barely connected to the 21st century. This mid-sized town in the eastern half of Niger had sporadic access to water and electricity, a handful of basic hotels, and very few landlines. The twelve-hour, 900 km drive to Niamey, the capital of Niger, was a communications blackout, with the exception of the few cabines téléphoniques along the way.

Then, in 2003 a Celtel mobile-phone tower appeared in town, and life rapidly changed. “I can get information quickly and without moving,” a wholesaler in the local market told me. Before the tower was built, he had to travel several hours to the nearest markets via a communal taxi to buy millet or meet potential customers, and he never knew whether the person he wanted to see would be there. Now he uses his mobile phone to find the best price, communicate with buyers, and place orders…

Read the full article.


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