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 Monday, 04 July 2011

Unprecedented growth in access to mobile phones has not only made communication easy, but also spurred economic and socio-economic benefits in many countries. It is somewhat surprising to pause and note that mobile applications that emerged out of local inventions for local needs - such as mobile money for the unbanked, crowd sourcing tools used during elections or humanitarian crises, and citizen mobile journalism - were virtually unheard of only 5-6 years ago.

Even as mobile penetration has grown exponentially in countries such as India, Kenya and Egypt, the digital divide between citizens in these countries remains an issue. Despite rising access to mobile phones and the steady growth of these countries’ economies, gender inequities and income disparities continue to present barriers.

Despite the obstacles preventing women in the bottom of the income pyramid (BOP) from obtaining and using mobile phones, they may represent the largest potential market for mobile access growth. According to a recent GSMA report, “Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity”, the globe’s most disenfranchised women could actually present mobile operators with a US$13 billion incremental, annual revenue opportunity. In this light, closing the mobile phone “gender gap” serves not only development goals, but may also be in the interest of mobile operators aiming to be market leaders.

To help development practitioners and mobile operators be alert to the disparities and opportunities as countries continue to experience economic growth and greater access to ICT technologies, we look at three distinct regions: South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

(Source: Audiencescapes)

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