Mobile Phones Tackling Poverty

Infographic: Mobile Phones Tackling Poverty

Mobile technologies empower the poor to take hold of their future. They fundamentally transform the way people in the developing world interact with one another and their governments, and access basic health, education, business and financial services.

  • 4.5 Billion mobile phones in the developing world
  • By 2016, there will be one billion phones in Africa: In 2000: 16 million; 2011: 500 million;

Mobile Impact

  • An increase of 10% in mobile penetration can raise the annual GDP growth rate by as much as 1.2% in a developing country
  • 93% of female mobile phone users feel safer with a phone
  • 85% feel more independent
  • 41% use their phones to increase their income and professional opportunities

Mobile phones empower the poor

  • Mobiles can mean safety: A USAID-supported program allows Kenyans to text incidences of ethnic violence, which is generated on a map so people know the dangerous areas to avoid. The system also works in Gaza and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Mobile Phones Deliver Education: In Tanzania, teachers provide locally-developed educational content to remote schools by downloading videos through mobile phoens in their classrooms.
  • Mobile Phones Improve Transparency & Root Out Corruption: When USAID helped the Afghan Government pay government employees and police officers through mobile phones, it cut out so much graft that some employees thought they were actually getting a 30% raise.
  • Mobile Phones Strengthen Democracy: In Haiti and Tunisia, USAID used mobile phones to provide citizens with important information on polling locations and voting procedures via SMS
  • SMS Helps Keep People Healthy: The Mobile Alliance for Matrnal Action (MAMA) uses mobile phones to provide mothers without access to clinics vital health information about pregnancy, childbirth and the first year of life.
  • Mobiles Provide Access to Markets: The mFarmer Initiative Fund launched in 2011 will help more than 2 million farmers in developing countries by providing farmers access via their mobile phones to agricultural information services such as daily market prices, weather reports, and mapping to potential buyers for their crops.
  • Mobiles Mean Banking: Mobile phones accelerate financial inclusion for the 1.8 million people with access to a phone bit not to a bank. Roughly 30 percent more Haitians have access to financial services as a result of USAID's mobile money partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Last updated: May 26, 2015

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