A study done recently by World Bank found that 75% of the world’s population has access to some sort of mobile device, whether it is a tablet or phone. Since 2010, the number of mobile subscriptions has grown from an impressive 1 billion to over 6 billion as of last week, the study indicated. Some 5 billion of those subscriptions are actually coming from developing countries, and the subscriptions in low income countries increased by nearly 1500% in the past decade.
In essence, the growth mostly has to do with not the mobile devices themselves, but the applications that have brought astounding changes in the economics of many countries. “Mobile communications offer major opportunities to advance human and economic development — from providing basic access to health information to making cash payments, spurring job creation, and stimulating citizen involvement in democratic processes,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank representative. “The challenge now is to enable people, businesses, and governments in developing countries to develop their own locally-relevant mobile applications so they can take full advantage of these opportunities.”
The gift that these applications are bringing the world is information. For example, Chilean farmers are seeing increased sales and are receiving more money for their products because they stay in touch via text message with weather and market prices. In Botswana, a medical facility is equipped with tablets and mobile phones so when they encounter a case they cannot solve, they can send pictures out to other facilities for advice.
Mobile devices have become essential tools in changing the relationship between citizens and the governments that rule over them as well. Some three million messages have been exchanged between the state of Kerala in India and their government in the past two years that would have otherwise never been received.
The study says that the new application economy has become essential in connecting a very divided world. “Growing opportunities for small-scale software developers and local information aggregators are allowing them to develop, invent, and adapt apps to suit their individual needs. Users themselves are becoming content providers on a global scale.”