Dr Bitange Ndomo is perhaps one of the most prominent voices on African ICT policy. Suffice to say he has 102,000 Twitter followers. In his latest column, read by many more than who get the hardcopy version in Nairobi, he says thus:
For example, a systematic review conducted by Rohan Samarajiva, Christoph Stork, and Nilusha Kapugama in Asia sought to isolate the economic impact of mobile phones in rural areas by looking at the most robust quantitative studies available.
The systematic review assessed the impacts of the following: increased coverage or availability of mobile signals, use of mobile phones or Subscriber Interface Modules (SIMs), and use of mobile-based services and/or applications.
PULL OVER PUSH
From the study, they came up with three key findings including:
1. Mobile coverage in rural areas makes markets more efficient by matching demand and supply better, leading to both consumer and producer welfare gains, by reducing price dispersion and subsequently leading to reduced waste of perishable agricultural produce and fish.
2. Mobile coverage in rural areas contributes to economic development. Mobile coverage leads to increased likelihood of being employed, increases disposable income and thereby expenditure.
3. Push services had a lesser impact than pull. Impacts were seen more in the instances where the users actively used the mobile phone to “pull” and obtain the information as opposed to when providers “pushed” the information to the users.