Mobile phones and development: The future in new hands?

‘Explosive’ is the only way to describe mobile phone growth. Half the world’s 6.5 billion people now use a mobile (up from two billion just two years ago). There are more than twice as many mobile owners in developing countries as in industrialised countries. Subscriber growth rates in developing countries are 25 percent per year – and double that in Africa.More and more development workers tell stories of mobile surprises – not just who is using them, and where they are using them, but also how they are using them. Through mobiles, the first digital information and communication technologies (ICTs) have reached poor households and communities. In less than a generation, the majority of poor people will have access to mobile phones and services.What difference will this make? Mobile ownership brings two types of benefits.

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