Mobiles for development
Mobiles for development (M4D), a more specific version of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), is the use of mobile technologies in global development strategies. M4D focuses on international and socioeconomic development as well as human rights. It is based on the idea that more people having access to mobile devices is a key part of promoting the development of society as a whole.
Once seen as a luxury, mobile phones and devices are now almost a necessity in both the developed and developing worlds.  According to a 2007 United Nations study, over two thirds of the world's mobile phones are owned and used in developing countries.  With less-developed wired infrastructure and the high cost of modernising and implementing it,
1 Getting a mobile phone and using it
2 Mobile leapfrogging
3 Hacking cell phones
4 Social impacts
5 Case studies
5.2 M4D in medicine
6 programmes that are linked.
7 points of criticism and problems
8 Also see
Access to and use of mobile
The number of people who own mobile phones, smartphones, tablet computers, and netbooks has grown thanks to recent changes in mobile communication and computing technologies. Most of the time, these electronic products are sold in the developed world as extras to standard laptops and desktop computers. They usually have lower prices for the consumer. This lower price point is good for developing countries, whose ICT markets are growing and changing quickly. These mobile devices come with basic hardware and software for mobile communications, such as WiFi and 3G services, which let users connect to the Internet through mobile and wireless networks without having to get a landline or an expensive broadband connection through DSL, cable Internet, or fibre optics. This jump-starting of the acceptance and use of mobile technologies made the Internet and modern digital communications easier for people to use, especially in emerging markets and developing countries.
The International Telecommunication Union says that mobile information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become the most important way to bridge the digital divide. ITU data shows how the use of mobile technologies is growing faster than and even replacing the use of desktop computers and regular laptops.
As of 2013, the International Telecommunication Union estimates that there are about 6.8 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions in the world, of which 5.2 billion are in developing countries. This is very different from the penetration rate of fixed-telephone subscriptions, which is about 1.2 billion worldwide, with just a little bit more than half of them in the developing world .
The table below shows the most important ICT indicators for both developed and developing countries from 2010 to 2013:
2010 2011 2012 2013
Subscriptions for fixed-line phones
Developed 552,000,000 542,000,000 531,000,000 520,000,000
Developing 676,000,000 662,000,000 655,000,000 652,000,000
World 1,228,000,000 1,204,000,000 1,186,000,000 1,171,000,000
Developed 1,418,000,000 1,475,000,000 1,538,000,000 1,600,000,000
Developing 3,901,000,000 4,487,000,000 4,872,000,000 5,235,000,000
World 5,320,000,000 5,962,000,000 6,411,000,000 6,835,000,000
Active subscriptions to mobile broadband
Developed 529,000,000 683,000,000 788,000,000 934,000,000
Developing 249,000,000 472,000,000 768,000,000 1,162,000,000
World 778,000,000 1,155,000,000 1,556,000,000 2,096,000,000
Fixed broadband (wired) subscriptions
Developed 291,000,000 306,000,000 322,000,000 340,000,000
Developing 236,000,000 282,000,000 316,000,000 357,000,000
World 527,000,000 588,000,000 638,000,000 696,000,000
The trends shown in the table above are backed up by the fact that technology companies selling mobile technologies in developing countries' emerging markets are making sales. Some multinational computer companies, like Acer and Lenovo, are selling cheaper netbooks to countries like China, Indonesia, and India, which are considered "emerging markets."
Leapfrogging was first used to talk about economic growth and industrialization. More recently, it has been used to talk about sustainable development in developing countries. Technological leapfrogging means speeding up development by skipping low-quality, less efficient, and more expensive technologies and industries in favour of directly adopting more effective and advanced technologies .
In the case of M4D, the rapid mass adoption of mobile technologies can be explained by the "mobile leapfrog effect." Many developing countries have been seen to skip the traditional routes of wired telephony and broadband infrastructure and development in favour of using wireless cellular and broadband technology right away. Also, the use of mobile phones in the Arab States shows that the wired infrastructure that was in place before mobile phones is often old, out of date, and can't send data, which is "the basic requirement for implementing Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) services" .
Mobile ICT platforms and how widely they are used in developing countries are a great example of leapfrog technology and how leapfrogging is currently used to help developing countries develop in a sustainable way. People have said that there will be more chances to bridge the Digital Divide if developing countries can "leapfrog" over the wired telephone and Internet services of the 20th century and go straight to the mobile technologies of the 21st century.
The term "mobile hack" refers to the use of mobile technology that goes beyond what the device's creators had in mind.: 24–38 Mobile hacks are often used in developing countries to get around the high costs of owning and using mobile devices.: 24 Mobile hacks have also become a common way for people in developing countries to use mobile technologies. Sharing devices, the "Missed Call" method, and transferring mobile credit have given people who didn't have access to digital communication before the chance to make money in the networked community.: 24
Device sharing, which usually means sharing mobile phones, is when more than one person in a family or community uses the same mobile device.: 24
The "Missed call" technique is when you set up a code that lets you avoid connection fees by letting a call ring a certain number of times before cutting it off.:30 This method avoids connection fees and uses codes to send messages in secret. This method goes against how mobile service providers make money and makes it possible for people to send messages in a cheap way.: 30
Through the transfer of mobile credits, owners of mobile devices can use credits of an amount set by their service provider as a way to make a monetary transaction. 32 By sending credits to another person's mobile device, cash can be exchanged when it is needed.
According to the ITU report "Measuring the Information Society," mobile phones and other mobile ICT devices are replacing standard laptops and desktop computers as the main platform for accessing and using the Internet and ICT. This increased access to and use of mobile phones gives people a handheld communication platform that can help increase the level of citizen agency in the development of local and international social, economic, and political systems. It also gives people the chance to form social, economic, and political communities no matter where they live. It also gives people a tool they can use to fight against human rights abuses from the ground up. Users can report, compile, and share news and information about human rights violations through organisations like Digital Democracy (Dd) and the Democratic Voice of Burma in order to get the world's attention and take action.
"Bottom of the pyramid" business strategies have been encouraged in order to "turn poverty into a business opportunity that benefits everyone": 340–360. This is to help create and support mobile citizens in developing countries.
Nigeria: According to statistics about mobile phone use and coverage, about one new subscriber signs up for a mobile phone service every second. About 90% of sub-Saharan Africa is covered by mobile service, and the ITU estimates that 77% of Nigerians over 15 who own a mobile device use mobile technologies like telecommunications .
South Africa: A 2012 UNAIDS study found that between the ages of 15 and 49, about 18% of South Africans are infected with HIV/AIDS. This high prevalence rate, along with South Africa's weak state health infrastructure and disorganised system of rural clinics, makes it hard to track and treat the disease effectively. Mobile technology has made it possible for HIV/AIDS patients to get care, medical advice, and counselling at home. Cell-"Aftercare" Life's programme uses mobile phones to record and report a patient's medical status and drug dosage adherence. The information is stored in a database to help with future care and to find out the severity and prevalence of the South African AIDS epidemic by region.
M4D in medicine
According to a report by InfoDev, "[h]ealth conditions in rural areas are generally worse, and access to information, services, and supplies is most limited." With the rapid worldwide adoption of mobile technology, a range of health-related areas such as the improvement of public health information dissemination, the facilitation of remote consultation, diagnosis, and treatment, the sharing of a patient's health information between health professionals, and the monitoring of health conditions can be improved .
Studies have shown that using mobile features like text message reminders about how much medicine to take and better communication between health professionals has made it easier to treat and prevent disease.
Some of the programmes that use M4D strategies to improve public health in developing countries around the world are listed below:
The Satellife programme from the Academy for Educational Development is a non-profit programme that looks at how health workers might be able to diagnose and treat illnesses better if they had access to more information that could be sent over mobile networks of health professionals .
Cell-Life is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works on development programmes that encourage and help collect medical data on mobile devices so that information can be spread more easily and better care can be taken of patients and the public's health. Cell-Life is working with Columbia University's International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs to develop mobile technology-based behaviour change communications (BCC) that will help reduce the number of HIV infections and deaths among South African homosexuals.  Their campaigns, "HealthSmart" and "Just-Tested," are meant to encourage safer sexual practises and give information about HIV. The World Health Organization has also worked with Cell-Life to study the use of mobile phones in relation to medical abortion in Cape Town, South Africa.  The m-assist project "aimed to assess whether the combination of information, self-assessment, and support provided via mobile phones would reduce the need for follow-up visits by clients; improve the experience of MA; reduce demands on MA providers; and increase post-abortion knowledge and uptake." The goal of Cell-program Life's Red is to make it easy for South African youth to get information about HIV/AIDS so that they can learn more about how to prevent it.  Red also wants to use mobile platforms to make a private, affordable, and easy-to-access space for people with or affected by HIV/AIDS . The m-assist project "aimed to assess whether the combination of information, self-assessment, and support provided via mobile phones would reduce the need for follow-up visits by clients; improve the experience of MA; reduce demands on MA providers; and increase post-abortion knowledge and uptake." The goal of Cell-program Life's Red is to make it easy for South African youth to get information about HIV/AIDS so that they can learn more about how to prevent it.  Red also wants to use mobile platforms to make a private, affordable, and easy-to-access space for people with or affected by HIV/AIDS .
Programs with links
NGOs can get a lot of help in their fight for social, political, economic, and environmental justice from the mobile-carrying public's ability to aggregate data. A study by the Vodafone Group Foundation and the UN Foundation Partnership found that 86 percent of a sample of over 500 NGOs used mobiles and that 99 percent of them thought it was useful, with a quarter of them calling it a "revolutionary" technology .
Here is a list of groups that work on M4D strategies and programmes:
GSMA Mobile for Development
The ICT Task Force of the UN
Support for the rights of African women (SOAWR)
There are criticisms and problems
It is important for the overall success of M4D projects to be able to grow and be used in other places. Sharing and exchanging information and technical advances can make this easier and less expensive. However, many of the organisations that create and run M4D projects work in "innovation silos" that keep information separate. This keeps information separate threatens to create and solidify boundaries.
The effects of more people using mobile phones on the environment can be seen in the large electronic waste dumps in many of the developing countries that M4D programmes and policies are meant to help.
People have also said that the spread of mobile information and communication technologies could increase the Matthew effect, in which the "rich get richer." In the case of mobile adoption, both economic and knowledge-based differences in wealth are taken into account. Even though adopting and using mobile ICTs for development is said to have benefits, the information and communication resources in question were first made and used in already developed countries: 721–744.
Even though in the long run, almost everyone might be able to benefit from a resource like the Internet, those with the most resources (status, knowledge, education, income, access) are the ones who use it first, gain more skills, and use it better for more and different things. So, they get more and more benefits sooner, which makes the knowledge gaps in society worse instead of better.