Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Cell Phone: Angola's Poverty Reduction Tool?!?

At a recent United Nations conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Luanda, UN delegates issued a report on Economics of Information with suggestions and recommendations on the advantages of using the 'phone' in the reduction of poverty.

Speaking to the press, UNCTAD representative Nuno Fortunato gave highlights of the report which documents the usefulness of the phone as a strong tool to combat hunger.  The main recommendations are those that fall within the policies of the states to reduce the cost of refills, to increase the validity of a phone subscriber's balance and charge the calls in seconds rather than in minutes.

Amidst its economic boom, Angola is experiencing exponential growth in cellular techonology and users, currently logging some 8 million users; 65% of the population.  Logically, the majority of these users are within the urban cellular signal range and within the economic capabilities of affording such communication services.

"In countries where there is an exponential growth of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in their rural communities, it appears that there has been a direct link to an increase in the improvement of living conditions, mainly to the resident peasant farmers and fishermen," he expounds.

Fortunato supports this theory by the statistical proof of the develop in China and India which have the highest rate of development and widespread use of ICT.  Conversely, in Africa, except for South Africa, many African states are lagging behind on the expansion of the use of mobile phone in their rural areas as compared to these two Asian countries.
Alison Gillwald, director of ICT Africa, supports the findings of the continent's cellphone pricing barriers. Acknowleding the higher expense of ICT infrastructure deployment in Africa because of logistics, her group concludes the that prices charged to customers are considerably higher than costs. The excessive prices are 'the result of an excessive taxation on the equipment and services and an insufficient price regulation by the overseeing government bodies'. These prohibitive prices prevent potential customers from using the services, especially people with a low income. (Angop)

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