Mobiles: The Hub of a Global Information Society

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Sep 30, 2011

A new report from the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) at the National Endowment for Democracy  “examines questions about how a global information society might look with mobile media devices at its hub.” The report, News on the Go: How Mobile Devices Are Changing the World's Information Ecosystem, is available for download here.

According to the report, at the end of 2010, more than 4 billion people paid for mobile serivce. By the end of this year, about 5 billion mobile phones will be in service in a world with 7 billion people. The report suggests that the implications of so many people having access to phones are many: for politics, for education, for economies, for civil society, and for news and information. 

While it offers several examples of mobile case studies in these various issue areas, the report focuses primarily on the growth of mobile Internet, and, hence, high-end smart phones over basic feature phones.

At and on the Mobile Media Toolkit, we write often about the role of and potential for the basic feature phone. The CIMA report takes the stance that while 5 billion people will have access to mobile phones, by the end of this year “virtually every phone sold” will be a more high-end device.

Innovative ways of appropriating mobile telephony in Africa

Posted by Agata on Oct 14, 2010
Innovative ways of appropriating mobile telephony in Africa data sheet 2918 Views
Annie Chéneau-Loquay
Publication Date: 
Sep 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The report entitled  "Innovative ways of appropriating mobile telephony in Africa" is published by the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The democratization of mobile telephony in Africa, its availability, ease of use and, above all, the extent to which it has been appropriated by the public, have made it a major success story. Very low-income populations are not only actively demanding access to mobile telephone services but also innovating by creating the functions and applications they can use. Development is thus happening “from the bottom up” and an entire economy, both formal and informal in nature, has come into being to meet people’s needs. Many different actors – private, public, NGOs – are now mobilized.

Operators and manufacturers have successfully changed their economic model and adapted their products and applications to allow access to services at affordable prices. NGOs have in addition created a range of messaging- based services in different sectors. However, the future evolution of mobile telephony is not clear. A range of different approaches will co-exist, from SMS up to full Internet capacity, including experimental initiatives using smart phones and “netbooks”. Falling costs will lead to an increase in the number of phone devices with data receiving capacity.

Individuals and companies involved in creating services or applications for development will need to take account of their users’ demographics and incomes, as well as the pricing systems of telecommunication companies in countries where they wish to operate. In this, states and regulating authorities have grasped the crucial role which they must play in promoting an investment-friendly environment with the goal of achieving universal access and stimulating innovation – key factors in achieving a “critical mass” of users.

The advent on the African continent of high-capacity links via submarine cables will change the ground rules and force operators to seek new sources of revenue. The inventiveness that has already been evident in mobile voice telephony will be needed once again if the “mobile divide” (in terms of costs, power supply, and so on) is not to widen.

This report takes stock of developments in this sector, which is crucial to Africa’s economic development, and suggests a number of possible directions it might take.

Use of ICTs among Researchers, Extension Workers and Farmers: Implications for a National Agricultural Extension Policy on ICTs

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Sep 07, 2010
Use of ICTs among Researchers, Extension Workers and Farmers: Implications for a National Agricultural Extension Policy on ICTs data sheet 2272 Views
Agwu A. E; U. C. Uche-Mba and O. M. Akinnagbe
Publication Date: 
Jun 2008
Publication Type: 
Journal article

The study ascertained the level of usage as well as constraints to the use of information communication technologies (ICTs) among major stakeholders in the agricultural development process in Abia and Enugu States of Nigeria. Data for the study were generated from a sample of 110 respondents using structured interview schedule and questionnaire.

Findings indicate that majority (52.5%, 57.5% and 56.7%) of researchers; extension workers and farmers had high, moderate and low knowledge levels of available ICTs, respectively. Out of 24 information communication technologies in use among the respondents, 11 were frequently utilized by researchers, while only 4 and 3 of the facilities were frequently utilized by extension workers and farmers, respectively.

The study revealed major constraints to the use of ICTs to include lack of sufficiently trained computer personnel, lack of confidence in operating modern ICTs, erratic and fluctuating power supply, poor finance, lack of internet access in the rural areas and high cost of ICTs hard and soft wares, among others. The study concludes with the need to have a National Agricultural Extension Policy on the use of ICTs with major emphasis on access, availability and use.

Strategic Use of Mobile Telephony at the Bottom of the Pyramid: The Case of Mexico

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 26, 2009
Strategic Use of Mobile Telephony at the Bottom of the Pyramid: The Case of Mexico data sheet 3211 Views
Regina de Angoitia, Fernando Ramirez
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The growing importance of mobile telephony for users at the bottom of the pyramid is reflected in the high proportion of their incomes devoted to this service. Evidence from communities in the developing world, where low-income users have developed strategies to minimize costs while continuing to benefit from access to communication, has opened new lines of research. Based on a survey of 1,000 mobile telephony users carried out in 2007, the present study assesses the strategies practiced by mobile users in two metropolitan areas of Mexico.

The results show that the main short-term strategies to minimize the costs of mobile telephony are 1) using the phone only to receive calls, and 2) the use of SMS. In both cases, the main determinant of whether users at the bottom of the pyramid use cost-reduction strategies is their low economic status.