Smartphone technology has become so successful that most individuals have trouble imagining living without it. Its technology is spreading faster than any other information technology.
Therefore, mobile technology has been proven to play a major role in eliminating poverty. A 2014 UNESCO report states that over six billion of the approximately seven billion people in the world have access to mobile phones. This means that there is a penetration of over 80 percent of the world’s population.
Poverty: The Enemy in the Room
The National Bureau of Statistics show that in 2020, 40% or 83 million Nigerians live in poverty. It has also been estimated that the number of poor people will increase to 90 million, or 45% of the population in 2022.
The rapid population growth exceeds the economic growth in the country and poses as a threat. Historically, the country has continuously experienced high level of inflation over and over.
No matter what the cause might be, at the very root of poverty lies the deprivation of access to basic necessities such as food, healthcare and sanitation amongst others.
From the educational sphere, to the economy, access to mobile technology has already significantly improved the lives of many across various aspects of lives. But while mobile phones are becoming increasingly popular, its penetration is still low in most developing countries.
The African economy is reaping the benefits of making its citizens mobile in many ways. Research shows that an economy gains 0.5% in its growth domestic profit, every time it enables a further 10% of its population to access mobile technology and mobile broadband in particular.
In Nigeria there are still a lot of people who do not live within the reach of either a 3G or 4G network. By bridging the digital divide between the urban and rural areas and providing mobile broadband coverage, there can be effective reduction in the poverty level in the country. Policies also need to be put in place like the expansion of digital infrastructure and access to the internet for everyone in order for mobile broadband to maximize its potential effects.
What Areas Can Mobile Technology Improve the Lives Of The Poor?
The benefits gained from the use of mobile technology to improve livelihood may not necessarily be profitable to people uniformly. There can be a lot of significant gaps in terms of who stands to benefit. And others may not even understand or maximize its potential. Nevertheless, some ways it could most likely help are broken down below.
Education is one of the most important aspects in the lives of people. In communities where there are no books, mobile phones can step in. Utilizing mobile technology is one of the easiest ways to increase literacy rates. Mobile reading provides much cheaper and more convenient alternatives to reading from books. They cannot teach users how to read but they can significantly increase literacy retentiveness. Several mobile applications exist in order to increase access to mobile reading.
Secondly, in Agriculture, farmers are aware that the weather plays a huge part in their success. They can use their mobiles to help them know about weather reports to help them decide on the right time to plant their crops and harvest them. Understanding agricultural developments is critical to improving one’s livelihood. Farmers need information to advance their produce just as much as industrial- scale producers.
Also, in finance/ banking, we all believe that saving money is a virtue. Having and being able to effectively manage a savings account promotes good financial management and safety net for the future. A number of poor persons have money to save but have no access to basic banking services. Having mobile phones will enable them to participate in mobile banking and will help them be part of the modern economy. The cost is much lower and helps save them from financial disasters.
Finally, in health, telemedicine has become one of the fastest growing ways people can access medical care. Mobile technology has enabled this distribution of health resources. With mobile phones, increased communications save time and a lot of money. One can easily dial or text healthcare services and get immediate response. Text messages have shown to be vital in communicating for access to medication and good health resources.