Daily Archives: 22 October 2012

Mobile Phones & Economics in Africa


I found an article “Africa Calling: Can mobile phones make a miracle?” on Boston Review by the economists Jenny Aker and Isaac Mbiti. Besides mentioning about the relationship between mobile phones and literacy, they talk about how mobile phones can promote the economic development in Africa.

Prior to the introduction of mobile phones, farmers, traders, and consumers had to travel a long way to markets. Lack of infrastructure, they needed to get over roads with poor conditions only for obtaining useful information such as price. Obviously, this kind of travel is time-consuming and costs a lot of money as well.

With the introduction of mobile phones, the information cost is lessend greatly. People can use SMS via mobile phones to get better and in-time information to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities by selling in different markets at different times of year, migrating to new areas, or offering new products.

Furthermore, mobile apps provide opportunities for disseminating market information, monitoring health care, and transferring airtime and money. In most cases these apps are developed by the private sector and then adopted and adapted throughout the development process. Projects in agriculture, health, education, and governance increasingly rely on the services uniquely available via mobile phones.