UNDP Mobile Technologies Primer - A Review

Posted by Sayama on Mar 12, 2012

Editor's Note: Mairead Heffron is the guest author of this post. She is a former staffer at UNDP on other projects, but reviewed the report in her personal capacity. We appreciate her guest contribution! 

A report, recently published by UNDP, on mobile technologies and human development, Mobile Technologies and Empowerment: Enhancing Human Development through Participation and Innovation”, does a good job of summarizing the many ways in which mobile technologies are being used successfully as tools for stimulating development. It's intended to provide information and ideas for development practitioners on how mobile technologies and applications can be used appropriately and effectively in international development projects. The aim is not to employ technology-based solutions as an end in themselves, but rather as the means to achieving desired development outcomes.

The report begins by examining trends in mobile usage in developing countries. Predictably In Sub-Saharan Africa, only a few countries register 100% or higher penetration (percentage of SIM cards per capita). By the end of 2012, it's estimated that these countries, South Africa, Botswana, and Gabon, will all have mobile penetration rates on a par or slightly higher than that of GermanyFigures for countries on the lower end of the human development index are substantially lower, but still show a massive difference between fixed line subscription penetration and mobile penetration. Witness Mozambique, for example, with 35% mobile penetration, and a dismal 0.3% fixed line penetration (prediction, end of 2011).