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2015 DMR_blue_Transformation_ICT4Development_E_02_2015


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2015 DMR_blue_Transformation_ICT4Development_E_02_2015

  1. 1. 56 Detecon Management Report blue • 2015 Emerging markets and developing countries are mobile – a good foundation for development work. Cell phones and laptops are a gateway to information, knowledge, and services. And that promotes the level of development worldwide. ICT4Development How Communications Technologies Can Save the World
  2. 2. 57 Detecon Management Report blue • 2015 The information and telecommunications industry (ICT) is changing the way we live. Seven billion mobile lines worldwide mean (statistically at least) that every single person on the face of the earth has his or her own mobile device, and five billion of them are in use by people living in emerging or developing countries, making them more mobile today than the Western markets. ICT can act as a catalyst for radical economic and social change in emerging and developing markets because they now have the opportunity to catch up with technological developments, reduce the digital gap within their borders, and utilize commu- nications technologies to alleviate poverty. Everyone benefits, whether the small farmers who obtain the latest price infor- mation in a text message, mothers who receive medical reports on their pregnancies on their cell phones, or workers who take advantage of mobile bank transfers to send their wages from the cities to their families in the country. Elections are monito- red by wireless services, and even social networks are playing an increasingly vital role in the democratization of nations. >> REVOLUTION Through ICT4D For the first time in history, millions of people around the globe can be connected thanks to access to modern communications technologies. For many, owning a cell phone is also the first contact with communications technology. Whereas the Western industrialized countries have climbed the various technology steps in sequence from fixed networks to fax, from cell phones to today’s smartphones and tablets, emerging markets and deve- loping countries can more and more frequently be seen to skip over the one or the other technology phase. Omnipresent connectivity is revolutionizing access to the chances offered by information, knowledge, and services. Stu- dies reveal how mobile technologies are impacting the status of human development worldwide, how mobile services help individual users to gain greater independence and offer new opportunities for business and gainful employment. The result is frequently an enhancement of the livelihoods in broad sec- tors of the population, people who were previously cut off from the mainstream economy, thereby furthering the growth of the economy as a whole. >> HEALTH CARE MHEALTH Communications technology is more and more capable of brin- ging about far-reaching improvements in health care services – even in the most remote and most poverty-stricken regions of the world. That is why health authorities, companies, and NGOs are glad to employ mobile technologies for the impro- vement of local health conditions and for the required medical care. These mobile services aid in giving preventive care, provi- ding information about specific diseases, and generating aware- ness for a healthier life style. But they also help in acute cases of illness by managing and analyzing data for the treatment and by making it possible to coordinate the necessary medical treat- ment more precisely. As part of their initial public-private-partnerships in this sector, governments and NGOs are sending out vouchers in text mes- sages to pregnant women so that they have the means to pay for a hospital stay during delivery and can avoid the high risks of home births. Even more recent pilot projects have gone a step further. The MDOT project conducted by the NGO “Danya”, for instance, is taking advantage of video-capable cell phones to supervise the medical treatment of tuberculosis patients. Pati- ents can carry out their treatments from their homes and save the money which would otherwise be required for hospital stays. mHealth is in a position to offer medical care despite relatively limited resources. This is advantageous for users as well. For in- stance, expensive trips from remote villages to the nearest me- dical care facilities can be eliminated by the use of tele-consul- tations. Humanitarian OpenStreetMap, another example, applies open source principles and makes all of its data public so that volun- teers can use GPS to map areas which have not been cataloged geographically. This type of information can be of service in re- cording, analyzing, and limiting the scope of catastrophes and crises such as the outbreak of the Ebola virus.
  3. 3. 58 Detecon Management Report blue • 2015 >> EDUCATION (mLearning) A good education is a key factor in securing greater opportuni- ties in life and in strengthening economic power because, stati- stically speaking, a person’s income rises by 10% for every year of schooling which is completed. The use of ICT in education can have a major impact on the way students are taught and what information is available to their teachers, thereby heighte- ning the quality of the education. Mobile learning makes it possible to study independently of physical location and time. Learning can take place in a number of different ways: some people use their mobile devices for digital educational services, connecting with other people or generating content. But mobile learning also makes it possible to support broader educational objectives such as the effective administration of school systems and improved communication between schools and families. Nokia, for example, collaborated with UNESCO to launch the initiative “English Teacher” in Nigeria. Educational content and pedagogical support for use as aids in teaching English are sent to the cell phones of participating teachers every day. The messa- ges are categorized as thematic modules and include images and exercises for the students. The better-known project “One Laptop per Child” conducted by the foundation of the same name in the USA has set itself the goal of providing laptops to as many children in the world as possible so that as a minimum an elementary school education becomes available. The 100-dollar laptop was developed speci- fically for the project. It is especially sturdy and oriented to the needs of children and is designed for use in school instruction in emerging markets and developing countries. >> BANKING (mMoney) For many people in emerging and developing countries, access to mobile payment systems is their first experience with an ac- count or a bank. Extremely low transaction fees for bank trans- fers per text message open the door to the participation of even the poorer population groups in formal economic life. Mobile payment systems are becoming an important infrastructure which can be used to pay for education, to receive salaries, to obtain insurance policies, or even to conclude loan agreements. Mobile money transfer services such as M-Pesa, a cooperative effort between Vodafone and Safaricom, are spreading at a rapid pace in emerging and developing markets. In Kenya, over 80% of the adult population now uses the mobile payment system. This means that more than one-third of the Kenyan gross domestic product is transferred through the popular mobile payment sys- tem. Even though the average amount of a transfer transaction with approximately US$30 is lower than in Western countries, M-Pesa recorded 56 million transactions in an average month even back in 2013. >> AGRICULTURE (mAgriculture) A growing number of studies document economic added value for smallholder farmers who take advantage of digital services to improve their productivity and income from their farms. Worldwide, more than 2.3 billion people living in poverty are dependent on the crop yields from about 500 million smallhol- der farmers. But these farmers often lack access to relevant and up-to-date information such as weather forecasts and to know- ledge about planting techniques, harvest management, and pest extermination, putting the efficient cultivation of their land in high jeopardy. Innumerable service providers such as Farmerline in Ghana or mFarm in Kenya give smallholder farmers better access to market data and message services which are available as paid subscriptions per text message or app. Price transparency helps these farmers to bypass expansive middlemen thanks to updated market prices and the opportunity to contact custo- mers directly, realizing higher prices as a result. Moreover, the chance to work together within groups gives smallholder farmers the chance to profit from better prices for ancillary agricultural products and to negotiate regular supplies to large customers.
  4. 4. 59 Detecon Management Report blue • 2015 >> POLITICS (mGovernment) Improved access to communications technologies can also in- tensify the relationship between governments and the populace when citizens begin to play a more active role. All around the world, citizens are making increasing use of mobile applications to demand greater accountability from their governments and heightened transparency thanks to contact opportunities which have never existed before. For their part, governments are using mobile technologies to create interactive services and opportu- nities to create a dialog for interested citizens. The new aspect from mGovernment is that governments become digitally acces- sible at any time, from any place, to anybody. Simultaneously, innovative products and services in this sector are contributing to a reduction in crime and support for democratization. In India, for instance, a country where citizens spend one-third of their income for bribes, the cell phone app “I Paid a Bribe” is attracting increased attention because instances of bribery can be reported quickly and brought to light. In Bangladesh, the government worked with the World Bank to launch a pilot pro- ject: a cell phone survey in various villages about the solar home facilities which are subsidized by the government. There are Internet platforms (such as in Germany as well which are institutionally independent and not beholden to any specific party. They provide a chance for citizens to publicly question German representatives in various parliaments. >> OUTLOOK Today, more than 4 billion people live under the poverty level of US$9 a day as measured by purchasing power parity, and 1.2 billion of them live in extreme poverty of less than US$1.25 a day. These circumstances led to the joint definition of the Mil- lennium Development Goals by a partnership among the UN, the World Bank, the OECD, and a number of NGOs in 2001. This program describes eight worldwide goals for 2015 aimed at cutting extreme poverty in half by that time. Even though enormous progress has been made, it is clear even now, shortly before the deadline, that not all of the goals which were set can be reached. Just as before, 1.8 billion people suffer from malnutrition, and more than 800 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat. 2.6 million children die from malnutrition every year. About one billion people lack access to sanitary facilities. Even today, about 300,000 women worldwide die during pregnancy or while delivering their children. Pneumonia and dysentery illnesses are among the most frequent causes of death for infants. The communications and technology sector will certainly not be able to solve all of our global problems. But it will for sure play an increasingly significant role in the battle against poverty in the future and have an impact in the areas of use described above. Dr. Hana Nari Kahle is Consultant and heads Detecon’s Integral Business Community with a focus on sustainability issues in companies.