Mobile Phones Help Fight Poverty In Africa
it pays to talk
Mobile phones help fight poverty in Africa
Few people have heard of Dr Mohamed Ibrahim, but he is responsible for bringing Mobile communications to a staggering 30% of Africa's population.
Many phone operators saw Africa as too risky an investment, but Dr Ibrahim saw potential. There is a big gap between perception and reality, When you ask people what they think of Africa, they think of AIDS, genocide, disasters, famine. But Africa has 53 countries. There are really peaceful parts of the continent.
Since 1998, the continent has achieved the world's fastest growth in mobile phone ownership. This has played an important role in reducing poverty. In London it is known that, in developing countries, an increase of ten mobile phones per hundred people boosts the economy's growth rate by 0.6%.
At its simplest, a mobile phone allows farmers and fishermen to find out the prices in various markets, and allows a handyman to travel to nearby villages only when he is told by phone that there is a job available. In Kenya and Tanzania mobile phones are improving healthcare provision, where doctors use them to diagnose patients living in remote communities.
Celtel's second-largest investor was DFID's private-sector development arm, CDC, which gave Celtel management advice, encouraged it to apply good employment practices, and paved the way for other organisations to invest in the company. When MTC of Kuwait bought Celtel in 2005, CDC received a 500% return on its investment - money that will be spent on new development initiatives.
Celtel operates in Malawi, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Gabon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, Sudan, Tanzania and Kenya. Between 2001 and 2004, CDC invested ¤650 million in private businesses in Africa, Asia and South America.
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