Ayesha Zainudeen, Senior Research Manager at LIRNEasia, spoke at the recent expert meeting of the UNESCAP in Colombo. Below is a long quote. There is more at FT.
Other than voice, it’s mostly SMS use, along with missed calling. Voice connectivity is almost ubiquitous. “The bottom of the pyramid is very well positioned to receive infomation and services on mobile phones via voice and maybe SMS but much remains to be done with more than voice services. Current awareness of voice services is very limited in terms of banking, government services etc. The highest awareness is in the entertainment related services,” she stated.
“The question is whether affordable services actually exist for this group of people. Accurate, relevant and timely information is needed for useful apps to be developed. For agriculture, health and banking services to exist, you need accurate, relevant and timely information. We feel that service design and development are better left to the private sector,” Zainudeen recommended.
A lot of these countries have operators and donors promoting platforms for app developers, for example, Sri Lanka has a very active and enthusiastic Android web developer platform. She further recommended that governments open up their data where a large amount of information and knowledge resides, and have it codified and made computer readable so that service providers can easily take the data and run with it.
“The bottom of the pyramid requires useful information and services in order to benefit fully from mobile use. So the best way to deliver these kinds of services and information is through mobile. Computers and internet is probably not the best way forward in the short to medium term. Governments need not do it all – the private sector too should work on developing apps and services,” she added.
Having said that, she noted that governments need to facilitate an enabling environment, especially in terms of smartphone proliferation.