Today, people in the developing world can store and send money safely and efficiently using their mobile phone. Understanding these technological advances, the U.S. Agency for International Development believes mobile phones can transform development by providing a powerful platform to accelerate financial inclusion and inspire individual empowerment.

Around the same time of the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain, the premier U.S. aid agency released the infographic titled “Mobile Phones Tackling Poverty” which illustrates the ways which mobile phones can promote security, education, health, government, and economic services, especially for women.

Despite major increases in mobile phone ownership and usage worldwide, a report by mWomen Connect states that a woman is still 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man in low and middle income countries. Many development experts contend that closing the mobile phone gender gap through both innovation and civil reforms would result in signficant development benefits.

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Some interesting facts from the infographic:

  • An increase of 10 percent in mobile penetration can raise the annual GDP growth rate by 1.2 percent in a developing country.

  • 93 percent of female mobile phone users feel safer with a phone.

  • 85 percent of female mobile phone users feel more independent.

  • 41 percent use their phones to increase their income and professional opportunities.

“Mobile Solutions” is one of the primary divisions and priorities of the USAID Office of Innovation and Development Alliances, which seeks to scale the use of mobile technology for development by fostering resourceful partnerships. For instance, the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action is a public-private partnership between USAID and Johnson & Johnson that delivers vital health information to mothers through mobile message. Another example is the mFarmer Iniative Fund which helps farmers gain agricultural information such as daily market prices and weather reports through SMS. 

About the author

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    Juan Carlos Concepcion

    Juan Carlos is a former analyst at the Devex Manila Office. A strong advocate of civic education, he also teaches undergraduate courses on Philippine politics and governance.