It's funny really. In Western countries (and even Eastern countries I guess) mobile phones have come to represent money going out the door. How many current affairs beat-up stories have you heard about the "financial dangers of mobile phones" where some poor schmuck is forced to pay his daughter's $50 000 bill because she couldn't stop SMS'ing entries to Popstars or Australian Idol?
By comparison, in developing countries the ability to get their hands on mobile phones has been nothing but good news.
"The study, backed by the UK mobile phone giant Vodafone, said African countries with greater mobile use had seen a higher rate of economic growth."
O.K., the report is commissioned by a mobile phone company. No big surprise there. However, there has been ongoing evidence that access to mobile phones in developing countries has helped them to leapfrog earlier technologies and develop businesses based on mobile communication.
More than 85% of small businesses run by black people, surveyed in South Africa, rely solely on mobile phones for telecommunications.
62% of businesses in South Africa, and 59% in Egypt, said mobile use was linked to an increase in profits - despite higher call costs.
97% of people surveyed in Tanzania said they could access a mobile phone, while just 28% could access a land line phone.
A developing country which has an average of 10 more mobile phones per 100 population between 1996 and 2003 had 0.59% higher GDP growth than an otherwise identical country.
A couple of days ago Mike Masnick published a short article over at "The Feature" talking about the economic impact in Nepal of the Nepalese King's decision to ban all mobile communications in that country.
"Small business owners have come to rely on mobile phones to communicate, and many are in serious trouble as a result of the loss of communications. Some are selling off assets, resorting to other methods to sell their wares, and hoping every day that mobile phone communications return."
He goes on to say that incidents like this
"...should serve as... a reminder of just how valuable mobile communications can be to those in places where technology advancement has been lacking for so long..."
BBC NEWS | Business | Mobile growth 'fastest in Africa'
(Update - Here I was thinking I was so quick off the mark with this story and I find out SmartMobs beat me to it. Then again, there's a lot more people contributing to SmartMobs than to my pitiful little site.)