Weekly Review September 26-30

People often ask us why we chose technology as our investment focus. The answer is quite simple: technology has the greatest potential to create impact in the developing world. The following articles for this week share our sentiment and speak to mobile technology’s power for social impact (be sure to check out next week’s Review to see how alternative energy is creating impact).
Mobile Broadband in Kenya” by Patrick Munyi on iHub Blog
Kenya has been the shining star of mobile technology innovation in Africa, largely fueled by high mobile penetration and the installation of undersea fiber cables in 2009. The folks at iHub Nairobi have collected data regarding mobile technology and mobile broadband usage in Kenya.  They have found that broadband speeds are increasing alongside the number of users and that most access the Internet with their phone; “98% of mobile subscribers use mobile internet.” More important are the affects mobile Internet will have on the Kenyan economy. iHub writes, “It is predicted that mobile broadband can potentially increase national productivity and growth by up to 15%.” Access to mobile phones, and therefore mobile broadband, will made a significant improvement in the continued development of Kenya.
 “Crises in the Digital Age” by Michael Fertik, CEO and Founder of Reptuation.com, on World Economic Forum Blog
Michael Fertik reflects on the attitude world leaders had on Internet at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year. All agreed and wanted to know more about how the Internet “spreads information, misinformation, rumor, innuendo, and fact.” While the Internet can cause a stir, the information it channels to underserved populations is critical. Fertik writes of the impact the Internet has in times of crisis or disaster. We agree that technology creates impact by absorbing and transmitting information, and add that it doesn’t just have to be in times of crisis.
Katrin Verclas, founder of MobileActive.org, has been honored as one of the most influential women in technology this year. Her site is a “hub for people around the world who are building tools for mobile phones that make a difference.” Her site unites the large community of technology innovators who are working to create technologies that empower the world’s underserved populations. This way, innovators can share their experiences and expertise to create affordable and scalable products and services for the underserved. By promoting the development of applications and mobile technologies, we can leverage mobile ubiquity to create social impact. Congratulations to Katrin Verclas and thanks for propelling the technology for impact space forward.
It’s not just small social enterprises that have caught on the potential at the BoP and technology’s power for impact. The IT giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) is expanding its operations in Africa with 10 new entities throughout the continent. Business customers, governments, and individuals will have improved access to HP’s hardware and software. Governments especially will be able to leverage HP technology “to drive economic growth by modernizing the delivery of services in key areas such as education, healthcare, and e-Government services.” By penetrating the market, HP will drive increased adoption of technology and promote sustainable economic development. HP’s presence alone will create jobs and stability throughout their communities. HP also has plans for many other initiatives to collaborate with universities, innovate in African education and extend social innovation programs.
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