17 July 2012
With over 6 billion mobile subscriptions in use worldwide, up from fewer than 1 billion in 2000, three out of every four human beings worldwide now have access to a mobile phone, says a flagship report on global mobile trends released today by infoDev and the World Bank.
According to Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile, more than 30 billion mobile applications, or “apps,” were downloaded in 2011 – software that extends the capabilities of phones, for instance to become mobile wallets, navigational aids, or price comparison tools. In developing countries, citizens are increasingly using mobile phones to create new livelihoods and enhance their lifestyles, while governments are using them to improve service delivery and citizen feedback mechanisms.
This new report, the third in the World Bank’s series on Information and Communications for Development (IC4D), explores the consequences for development of the emerging “app economy”, especially in evolving approaches to entrepreneurship and employment. It also examines the vast transformative impact of mobile technology in sectors such as agriculture, health, financial services, and government.
Download the IC4D 2012 infographic
Countries around the world are taking advantage of this potential, for example:
- In India, the state of Kerala’s mGovernment program has deployed over 20 applications and facilitated more than 3 million interactions between the government and citizens since its launch in December 2010.
- Kenya has emerged as a leading player in mobile for development, largely due to the success of the M-PESA mobile payment ecosystem. Nairobi-based AkiraChix, for example, provides networking and training for women technologists.
- In Palestine, Souktel’s JobMatch service is helping young people find jobs. College graduates using the service reported a reduction in the time spent looking for employment from an average of twelve weeks to one week or less, and an increase in wages of up to 50 percent.
The report benefits from research funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, the Korea Trust Fund for ICT4D, and UKaid. It features at-a-glance tables for more than 150 economies showing the latest available data and indicators for the mobile sector. It also introduces an analytical tool for examining the relevant performance indicators for each country’s mobile sector, so that policy-makers can assess their capacities relative to other countries.
View the press release
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* Note: the report specifies that 75% of human beings worldwide have access to mobile phones, as distinct from owning a cellphone or having a cellular subscription.