Friday, August 29, 2008

Sachs on the Digital Divide

Jeff Sachs reports some good news:

The digital divide is ending not through a burst of civic responsibility, but mainly through market forces. Mobile phone technology is so powerful, and costs so little per unit of data transmission, that it has proved possible to sell mobile phone access to the poor. There are now more than 3.3 billion subscribers in the world, roughly one for every two people on the planet....

In Africa, which contains the world’s poorest countries, the market is soaring, with more than 280 million subscribers. Mobile phones are now ubiquitous in villages as well as cities. If an individual does not have a cell phone, they almost surely know someone who does. Probably a significant majority of Africans have at least emergency access to a cell phone, either their own, a neighbor’s, or one at a commercial kiosk.