The evolution of mobile phones in developing markets is one of the important assets in the reduction of the digital divide between worlds, and is an issue that we want to deal on Engadget Mobile, so we wanted to do it with someone who works at first hand.
We have decided to contact with José Manuel headquarters, Sustainability Director of Vodafone, which us has responded to some questions, at the same time that reports on the work of the Vodafone Foundation in developing countries:
Engadget Mobile. There is a great lack of knowledge about the role of the mobile and telecommunications in developing countries what the current state of the situation and what are the main uses given in these societies?
Jose Manuel headquarters. In emerging or developing where Vodafone is present, mobile technology contributes to the promotion of the socio-economic progress through the development of our activity. In this sense, Vodafone is already contributing in different ways to the achievement of the development goals of the Millennium Goals (MDGs); for example, providing to the people of the community in those countries, jobs and opportunities for improvement. At the same time, Vodafone is aware that also contributes to the progress most significantly through their products and services.
ICT are specifically included in the MDGs due to the economic impact that have proven to be. Results of socio-economic studies of Vodafone, indicate that a 10% increase in mobile penetration translates into an increase of 1.2% of GDP in emerging markets, helping to eradicate poverty and contributing to the economic development.
On the other hand, Vodafone also contributes to the MDGs through its products and services, which improve the conditions of life, education, health, promote gender equality, and help protect the environment.
Vodafone works with clientes-empresa, administrations and NGOs to develop innovative solutions. In this sense, the products and services of Vodafone can help Governments to mobilize resources limited in a more efficient way (is one of the key actions recommended in the report of the program of) United Nations development: “what is needed to achieve the Millennium development goals? An international assessment”). Improving the efficiency of public services and reducing the administrative costs, Vodafone can help Governments to increase the impact of its development activities and reallocation of surplus resources to other projects.
Our services offer great opportunities, mainly in the areas of health, financial services and food distribution.
Is contributing in different ways to the achievement of the Millennium development goals: providing to the people of the community in those countries, jobs and opportunities for improvement
On the one hand, the improvement of basic health care in emerging markets is a significant need. The use of the mobile phone allows you to improve access to medicines, for example, through the monitoring and management of supplies, to ensure that medicines are sent where they are most needed. Thus, our services are used to manage the supplies of medicines against malaria in Tanzania, being the first solution m-Health that you have applied at national level. In South Africa, we also offer a mobile solution that allows medical workers to access and update patient information, enabling a more efficient planning and greater number of visits.
In the field of financial services, mobile and in particular technologies service M-PESA, They allow people in emerging markets to send money to their families and pay for goods or services. It’s more fast, safe and cheap; services for example, users of rural localities have experienced a 30% increase in revenue since they began using these services.
Finally, in terms of the global distribution of food, according to a study by Vodafone and Accenture aimed at measuring the impact of mobile communications on livelihoods and the prosperity of farming communities in some of the poorest countries of the world, agricultural production must increase by 70% by 2050 to feed a world population expected to reach 9 billion. The mobile has the potential to achieve a change in food production improving the efficiency of the agricultural value chain.
You can also help small farmers to increase their productivity and livelihoods. Our mobile payment solutions mentioned before already are helping farmers to get fast and secure payments for their productions, seeds or fertilizer against unexpected risks. Our services for farmers in Ghana, the India and Turkey offer features such as weather alerts, and updated information on the prices of crops in the local markets. More than 280,000 people in Turkey have signed up for these services.
Financial transactions with mobile in developing countries
Engadget Mobile. Mobile in developing countries is of payment, where’re very ahead even of the great powers what can we learn from your use of the mobile as a means of payment? The more developed countries will end up using part of that experience and technology?
Jose Manuel headquarters. Vodafone Group offers a financial transaction in several countries called M-PESA. M-PESA (M for mobile, “weighs” in Swahili means “money”) this service allows users to make payments with your mobile, send and receive money between users (and non-users), book hotels, withdraw cash in ATMs, among others.
M-PESA is a banking service without branches, which means that it is designed to allow users to perform basic banking transactions without the need to visit a bank branch.
M-PESA has been implanted with force in Kenya. In April 2011 with more than 14 million users and almost 30,000 distributors in this country just four years after starting its marketing, and since last year has begun to be implemented in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Afghanistan.
In principle, m-PESA does not appear applicable in developed countries in which the possibilities of access to a banking network of quality are multiple and where mobile technology is more advanced. While in developed countries there are products such as NFC, in the emerging develop these other types of services that best fit your needs.
Wireless communications in affected areas
Engadget Mobile. Find us very interesting the use that can be given to your phone such as alert or alarm situations that is foreseeable, as fires, accidents, weather, and even guerrilla movements. Do you have evidence that has been put into practice any such system?
Jose Manuel headquarters. Vodafone has developed specific solutions in various emergency situations. For example, it has a portable solution to bring mobile emergency communications to affected areas. To do this, Vodafone has partnered with Télécoms Sans Frontières, an organization non-profit specializing in wireless communications to affected areas and collaborates with organizations of humanitarian aid when it comes to coordinate their efforts and assistance to the displaced families. Thanks to the innovative design, the solution can be included in three suitcases that it can be transported on commercial flights, avoiding the delays associated with shipments of large-sized equipment shipping.
Télécoms Sans Frontières is an organization non-profit specializing in bringing wireless communications to affected areas. It has a solution that can be included in three suitcases
On the other hand, in the Libyan conflict in 2011, employees of Egypt came to the border with Libya to cater for refugees allowing that they could use mobile phones to contact and to reassure their families.
Base stations that run on renewable energy
Engadget Mobile. We understand that each country is a world, but compared to Europe, in which technological State communication networks are in African countries, types of networks use, and if you think that the service is expensive with respect to the salary’s citizens.
Jose Manuel headquarters. One of the major challenges that we face in Vodafone regarding the expansion of the network access in emerging markets, is the construction of a network that works effectively with low cost in remote areas. We work with our network partners and with equipment manufacturers, to use innovative technologies as simple base stations and using renewable energy (like solar energy or wind power) for the deployment of networks that are able to operate without the energy infrastructure in which the networks are based in developed countries.
Another key challenge is access to low-cost phones. So, we work with suppliers to develop our own low-cost phones. Increasingly, our priority is to reduce the cost of access to Internet via mobile phone. Our latest research on the socio-economic impact of mobile telephony suggest that Mobile Internet is spreading rapidly in emerging markets.
The Vodafone 340 It’s our phone with Internet access more affordable, which sells for about $30. All our phones with low cost Internet access, use the special design Opera, a mini browser, which works on 2G networks – important in emerging markets where 3G coverage is currently limited.
On the other hand, our WebBox is revolutionizing access to mobile Internet through the use of television to provide an experience of big screen of the Internet at home without a fixed line connection or computer.
Although access to mobile phones is rapidly expanding, there are still fewer people with mobile phones that with televisions, and less still to have access to a computer at home. Our new device “WebBox “ Vodafone offers the opportunity to significantly increase the number of households with Internet access using their televisions to view internet on a big screen by just 80 dollars.” It was launched in South Africa in February 2011, and we anticipate a great demand for this device in emerging markets. The QWERTY keyboard with integrated mobile connectivity connects to any conventional TV and allows you to surf the Internet on big screen.
Vodafone can offer its infrastructure to other companies
Engadget Mobile. To get an idea what kind of terminals and technologies are the protagonists of mobile telephony in developing countries?
Jose Manuel headquarters. As a telecommunications company with a strong presence in emerging markets, Vodafone is very well positioned to play a role in global efforts to reduce poverty.
We believe that our networks and our innovative products and services can make a significant difference in the lives of people around the world. With our presence in emerging markets, now we are making a contribution, for example, providing local people employment and contracting opportunities. In addition, we also managed one much greater through our products and services contribution.
The strategic objective, we have us set for March 2015, be recognized as the communications company that makes a greater contribution to the achievement of the objectives of the of the UN Millennium Development (MDGs). Our goal is that our contribution is sustainable, focusing on areas that may involve further development and at the same time a growth of our business.
Vodafone wants to be recognized as the communications company that made a major contribution to the achievement of the Millennium development goals, in March 2015
We are expanding our network and we are reaching a huge growth in emerging markets, for example, our client in 20010/11 base grew by more than 33 million only in the India. Our fast and reliable networks and our low-cost devices, provide affordable access to telecommunications and, increasingly, mobile Internet. This is assuming a very important factor for the economic development of environments that were previously isolated and less developed communities.
The increase in the number of customers of mobile communications has also stimulated the development of a range of innovative services that can be offered by other companies through our networks. We can also contribute significantly through our own products and services, which offer a series of benefits for the development (from access to financial services for the population unbanked, to a more efficient health care)
Reducing the gender and digital divide
Engadget Mobile. Do what kind of work the operators and other agencies when it comes to trying to reduce the digital divide in the mobile world?
Jose Manuel headquarters. The deployment of the network and the innovative products and services that we have commented already reduce the digital divide in emerging countries compared to the rest of the world significantly. It is precisely, mobile technology which allows them to access services that otherwise would not be possible, for example, that they have discussed health or financial.
In developing markets there are 300 million less women than men who have a mobile phone
In some emerging countries, mobile technology has allowed also to reduce other types of gap: gender. In emerging markets there are 300 million less women than men who have a mobile phone. By adapting our services for women, our goal is, in addition to attracting new customers, bringing the benefits of improved access to telecommunications for themselves and their families. A GSMA survey on mobile phone users revealed that 85% feel more independent by having a cell phone and 41% indicate that it facilitates work and associated economic opportunities. Vodafone is committed to the principles of the United Nations for the empowerment of women and is part of the program mWomen GSMA, a public association – private led by Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair who aspires to more than 150 million connections mobile women over the next three years.
We are also establishing our own development projects with women. Our program of Al johara, for example, it allows women in Qatar learn business skills and make a living by selling products and services of Vodafone in their communities. In India, we help women who are in groups of self-help through their training to become distributors of Vodafone, providing them with tools to manage financial resources and information about health, hygiene and social problems through the mobile.
Finally, in developed countries, is remarkable the contribution that mobile technology takes place at the time of bridge the digital divide both of certain vulnerable groups, as rural environments.
Thus, our technology is facilitating access to communications for persons with special needs (handicapped, elderly, chronically ill, victims of gender violence, etc.), contributing in this way to increase their quality of life and inclusion in society.
In addition, Vodafone Spain began in the year 2010 an ambitious project, still existing, and it aims to provide coverage of band mobile broadband to more than 3,100 populations of less than 1,000 inhabitants, throughout the territory, before April of the year 2012, with the aim that the technology reaches everyone, wherever they are and on equal terms and thereby reduce the digital divide.