The Economic Impact of Telecommunications on Rural Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction: A study of rural communities in India (Gujarat), Mozambique and Tanzania. Project managed for the UK's DFID by Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation.
The last five years have seen tremendous growth in telephone ownership and use in developing countries. Until the mid-1990s, telephones were only available in the urban centres of poor countries. Some African countries had telephone densities as low as one per thousand people. Since then, mobile telephone networks have spread rapidly in most low income countries. Many people, even in low income communities, now own telephones; and most adults make some use of them, wherever they are available, usually relying on public kiosks, phone shops or airtime bought from individual phone owners. The mobile phone has become a symbol of the use of new information and communication technologies (or ICTs) in the developing world.
But what impact has the telephone had on livelihoods – on how people live their lives, protect themselves against vulnerability and take opportunities for a more prosperous future? Do people use the telephone for social or business purposes? How important is it to them in emergencies? Does it make a difference to how they obtain the information they need to run their lives? And how does it fit into the pattern of other communication channels they have available?