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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hold my calls

Technology Review published a survey of the role of mobile technology in the developing economies this past January. Going beyond the merely anecdotal, the article tried to put some metric on the role mobile technology plays in growth in these countries.
Based on market research in China, India and the Philippines, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that raising wireless penetration by 10 percentage points can lead to an increase in gross domestic product of about 0.5 percent, or around US$12 billion for an economy the size of China.
The economic power comes from the ability to communicate with suppliers and customers across greater distances, often allowing unproductive middlemen to be cut out of the process.

To we technologically inclined folks this may seem obvious, but not everyone sees it. Last weekend I met Canadian filmmaker Sylvain l'Esperance, whose wonderful documentary about life in the Niger Inland Delta region of Mali was showing at the Toronto Hot Docs film festival. Chatting after the screening, l'Esperance was saying that he thought the sale of cellphones was an economic drain in the regions he visited: people seem to be spending cash they could be saving for economic betterment to chatter on the phone. But the preponderance of what I read convinces me he's wrong.

What moved me to think about mobile technology in the developing world today was this report of mobile activism in the developing world: a young girl arranged her rescue from a forced marriage by texting her schoolmates.

Folks like The Other Michael Stein have been blogging for a while now about the value of cell phones in mobilizing advocacy campaigns. Because of my personal distaste for phone interruptions I've tended to pay very little attention to what people are doing in this area. I think I need a wake up call.

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