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Positive externalities of telecom: Enabling innovation

I’ve written about this earlier, but a more fleshed out argument is in my LBO column.

The story was about an award. But what I noticed was the role of telephones in the story. The award winning innovation is not just one new thing; it is a collection of process improvements. Critical elements involve phones as easy ways of contacting mothers on the one hand and health workers on the other.

Without the phones, would the innovation have been possible? Without the innovation, would the increase in immunization rates have been possible? Without the increase in immunization rates would it have been possible to save lives?

Without the reforms, would there be phones? Would it be possible to assume that all health workers could be reached, and that the mothers would have phone numbers to give when being registered?

These benefits, it appears, far outweigh the millions of dollars generated by the telecom industry for government.

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