Curious Case of Mobile Phones Lifting Poverty
Last year a Hollywood movie was released named, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” that won Oscar nominations. It tells the story of Benjamin Button, who starts aging backward. He takes birth as an old man and dies as an infant. One can understand that such things are only possible in movies. It is quite unnatural. Winning nomination for best picture category is another surprise.
Yesterday, a UN study revealed a curious case of cell phones. It said mobile phones could improve the livelihoods of poorest people in developing countries. UNCTAD, United Nations Conference on Trade And Development, said in its information economy report, “Mobiles have spawned a wealth of micro-enterprises, offering work to people with little education and few resources.” It advised governments to monitor how poor people were using mobile phones and design policies to build on that.
This is a curious case of mobile phones lifting poverty instead of policies of the government that enable poor to have honorable employment. The UNCTAD’s suggestion is somewhat like tail wagging the dog. Mobile phones are no doubt a revolutionary invention that enables people to get information faster than before.
But, what information is shared by poor people through mobile phones? Small business people can order products and get them next day. Previously, land phones did the same job. Transport facilities in the poorest areas of the least developed countries have not yet been developed as pointed out by the same report. And, the small business people are not poorest people, and they are placed above poverty line in developing and LDC nations.
The report said with the help of mobiles micro-enterprises offered work to people with little education and few resources. It should be noted that offering work is need of the micro-enterprises, and with the mobiles, they are able to gather workers in a bit faster way. Here, the gainers are micro-enterprises but not workers.Continued on the next page