November 11, 2012
Kenya’s mobile telephones. A report describes the sacrifices the poor make to keep a mobile phone
Africa's “mobile decade”, when telephones at last reached most corners of the continent, has meant a huge improvement in the lives of the poor. But quantifying it is hard. How useful can a mobile phone be to someone living on less than $2.50 a day, the World Bank’s standard benchmark of poverty? Researchers in Kenya have given a partial answer. They find that people will skip a meal or choose to walk instead of paying for a bus fare so that they can keep their phone in credit. The Economist reports.
... Almost half of those surveyed were using internet-enabled smart or “feature” phones. The scratch cards that many Kenyans use to charge their mobiles have recently begun to advertise their value in terms of data rather than talk time. Meanwhile, mobile-phone operators have been giving free access to sites such as Wikipedia to entice customers.
Still, only 16% of respondents said they were using their phones to browse the internet. The real breakthrough in the Kenyan market has been in people’s ability to send and receive money, with more than two-thirds doing so by phone.
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