Mobile for development

Since the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress is next week, it’s only fitting that this week’s Weekly Review focuses on mobile for development news.

Video: Exploiting Opportunities for Mobile Money in Untapped Markets – NFC & MMS 2012 on Mobile Money for the Unbanked GSMA
We’re attending MWC next week, and we’re particularly looking forward to the discussion about NFC applications in emerging markets. NFC is near-field communication technology that allows for simple, fast, and secure transfers of data between two devices with a simple physical tap. It’s commonly used for mobile payment, but can also be used for access control by replacing traditional keys, or couponing by replacing physical vouchers and coupons. We’re curious to see how quickly NFC adoption will ramp up, as it will be correlated to smartphone adoption. Check out the video linked above, it features leading telecom and mobile money leaders sharing their thoughts on the NFC opportunity.

The Mobile Continent” by Erik Hersman on SSIReview
Erik Hersman’s essay is one of 16 special essays on the social innovation field commemorating SSIR’s 10th anniversary. This essay pays homage to the innovations that are changing Africa for the better. Hersman, a man of many hats (Ushahidi, AfriGadget, White African, iHub, and the Savannah Fund), credits the mobile phone as the key disruptor for Africa. Simple innovations like mobile money and merely having access to communication technologies have dramatically increased efficiency. What will the next decade bring?

Vodafone offers portable mobile-phone chargers to Tanzania’s ‘off-grid’ users” by Katherine Rushton on Telegraph
Given the high levels of mobile phone penetration in emerging markets, telecoms often have the best insight into what their customers need. Vodafone, with a presence across sub-Saharan Africa, is responding to the energy challenge that many customers face. The company has plans to distribute portable mobile phone chargers in Tanzania. Having access to energy lets people keep their mobile phones charged longer, increasing connectivity for the customer and revenues for Vodafone.

Bringing the field to the farmers: how video is transforming agriculture”  by Josh Woodard on The Guardian
On this blog, we frequently write about the positive impact that access to ICT services and access to energy have on underserved populations. More frequently, we’re noticing specific applications for both ICT and energy in agriculture. There’s a diverse need for innovative agricultural technologies. The need ranges from more complicated whole-farm management and intelligence systems to the simpler agricultural extension mobile apps that help farmers learn about best practices.  Woodard points out that the rapid expansion of mobile phones, especially in Africa, has changed how information is exchanged even for the most remote farmers. We’re excited about this space, especially as technology costs fall and smartphone access climbs.

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