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Hey All -
Following the current NGL course - some thoughts regarding Mobile Access and Developing countries.
We wrote it as the final essay of the course. (Thanks to Tracy, Ginger for leading the course).
"In ten short years, what was once an object of luxury and privilege, the mobile phone, has become a basic necessity in Africa." (Paul Kagame , Rwandan President) (Falch & Henten, 2010).
Technology innovations provide opportunities for civil society in developing countries but also hidden lots of risks. As Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, mentioned, mobile access is good example of technology innovation.
In this essay, I explain what is needed to create opportunity-oriented environment in developing countries by examining the advantages and disadvantages of Mobile Access, which is a successful use case of technology innovation. I also explain about ways that mobile access affects regulations like Internet Policy Principles and Digital divide. And I recommend creating local incubators to support local needs by local leaders based on ISOC's core values.
To create this kind of opportunity-oriented environment, we need to consider the mobile access advantages and disadvantages. The first advantage is that, a mobile device is sometimes cheaper than a pc, and can provide services in a lower price (Background, 2012). Second, many new opportunities exist when mobile access is covering the vast majority of citizens (Sanua, 2012), user carry his mobile device anywhere and other infrastructures are not accessible (like banking and government) (ISOC, 2012). Third, from economy perspective, analysis by Deloitte shows that 10 percent penetration of Mobile Access improves the GDP in 1.2% in the long run (Deloitte, 2008).
On the other hand, many threats exist when mobile access established. People can purchase goods from different regions or countries; it can affect the local markets and lost local jobs (Background, 2012). Second, the competition is growing, when international organizations with more specific expertise and resources are available (Background, 2012). And last, when new initiative developed, the entrepreneur needs to adjust it to two platforms, PC and mobile – it makes new initiative be more expensive (Background, 2012).
One of the accelerators of opportunity-oriented environment is regulations. GSMA (2006) estimates that stable regulatory environment would increase the private sector investment by 25 percent and reduce the cost of using mobile access by 10 percent. Internet Government challenges, like: Internet Policy Principles, Digital divide, intellectual property, are the core for right and balanced regulations. This essay focused on the effect of mobile access on Policy Principles and Digital divide.
Policy is set of principles, norms and rules. Internet Policy is a policy that related to the communication between computers and networks. ISOC set its core values and policy positions, which contain three main categories: Openness, Access and End-to-end solution. Mobile access, or any technology innovation needs to support ISOC's policies and we need to ensure that new applications and processes support all these three categories. Our opportunity-oriented environment needs to support solutions based on open standards, accessible anywhere and based on the user's end-device (ISOC NGL 2012, 9.1).
Digital Divide is the disparity between those who, for technical, political, social, or economic reasons, have access and the capability to use the Internet, and those who do not. Mobile access provides technical and economy infrastructure to bridge this gap (ISOC NGL 2012, 15.1). Mobile access provides accessible content to most of the citizens in developing countries (Ethirajan, 2012) and creates cheaper communication solutions for them (Geiger & Mia, 2009). We need to assure the Mobile access infrastructure reaches everyone and spreads widely over the countries. By improving the economy and growing local markets, we help to create a better opportunity-oriented environment.
We have evidence that Mobile Access improves the community's life, the economy and create more opportunities for local citizens (Sanoua, 2011, Geiger & Mia, 2009 etc.). I recommend creating local incubators for local entrepreneurs, business leaders and stakeholders. The incubators will help them develop mobile applications for local communities. The solutions will be based on ISOC's core values and while the mobile access keeps spreading the country, wider markets will be opened and new opportunities arise.
This essay supports establish local incubators to create opportunity-oriented environments for entrepreneurs, youth, and stakeholders in the mobile access field. We've examined the idea based on analyzing mobile access and technology innovations opportunities and risks, and its relation to regulation and economy. I hope to see more incubators established in developing countries to support local needs by local leaders.
Deloitte/GSMA. (2008). Global mobile tax review 2006-07. GSMA. See: www.gsmworld.com/.
Ethirajan, A. , 2012. Afghanistan's mobile phone sector boosts the economy, BBC News.
Falch, M., & Henten, A., 2010. Public-private Partnerships as a Tool for Stimulating
Investments in Broadband. Telecommunications Policy, 34(9), 496-504.
Geiger, T., Mia, I. (2009). Mobile Telephony: A Critical Enabler of Networked Readiness? The Global Information Technology Report. World Economic Forum.
ISOC NGL 2012, 9.1 Internet Policy Principles.
ISOC NGL 2012, 15. Regulation and the Digital Divide
Background, 2012. Mobile is changing the world - challenges and opportunities are paralleled for the enterprises, ISOC China.
Price Waterhouse Coopers/GSMA. (2006). Regulation and the Digital Divide. GSMA.
Sanou, B., 2011. The Role of ICT in Advancing Growth in Least Developed Countries Trends, Challenges and Opportunities 2011. ITU, Geneva, 2011.