Digital divide is beginning to end?

Friday, August 29, 2008

This article is based on Professor Jeffry Sachs work, The Digital War on Poverty.

Mobile revolution could provide logistics to wage war on poverty, says Professor Jeffry Sachs, Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. The Economics professor, at Columbia University, noted that, the digital divide is beginning to end.

The flow of digital information through mobile phones is reaching masses, even in the poorest countries. This digital flow is bringing revolution in economics, politics, and society. Today, mobile phones are becoming pervasive. Mobiles cost so little that almost anyone can afford them. From auto-rickshaw drivers keeping in touch with regular customers to carpenters giving appointments through the mobile phone, even blackmarketeers at cinema halls have now discovered the worth of this innovation.

On the other hand, the rural poor now have access to wireless banking and payments systems. For example, Kenya’s famous M-PESA system allows money transfers through mobile phones. e-Governance initiatives in India are worth noting. Innovations in mobile technology are promising and can cut across the boundaries to change the lives around.

Mobile phones these days have huge potential to change the lives around. "The information carried on the new networks span various areas like public health, medical care, education, banking, commerce, and entertainment, in addition to communications among family and friends”, says Professor Sachs. He also notes that, extreme poverty is almost synonymous with extreme isolation, especially rural isolation. But mobile phones and wireless Internet can end that isolation. Once we end this isolation, economic development can be achieved through innovations in mobile technology. He also hints the end of digital divide through market forces.

If the mobile revolution is used innovatively it can have unprecedented impact on education, banking, commerce, and entertainment, health care and various other areas.

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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.