The Next Billion: Mobile Technology Saves Lives In Sub-Saharan AfricaThe Next Billion: Mobile Technology Saves Lives In Sub-Saharan Africa
Who says the profit motive and Third World development can't work together? Wireless infrastructure giant Ericsson is trying to prove otherwise in remote areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.
May 9, 2008
Who says the profit motive and Third World development can't work together? Wireless infrastructure giant Ericsson is trying to prove otherwise in remote areas of Sub-Saharan Africa."A toll-free mobile service being launched in selected remote areas in Africa promises to save lives by connecting people with emergency medical cases to health personnel," reports the AllAfrica.com news service.
Ericsson, Kuwait-based wireless carrier Zain, and handset vendor Sony Ericsson are working with the Millennium Villages Project, at Columbia's Earth Institute, to provide mobile phones and connectivity to health workers and villagers in some of the poorest and most remote regions of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. So far, Zain and Ericsson have deployed a temporary mobile network providing service to 5,000 people in Dertu, Kenya, for the first time. Health clinics and medical workers will use the wireless network to monitor basic health problems as well as provide emergency care to places where sick villagers rarely have access to doctors. Launched in Nairobi on Wednesday, the initiative will eventually encompass a solar-powered wireless network designed to reach 400,000 people in 10 countries. Refreshingly, Ericsson isn't being coy about its ulterior motives in the project. "The partnership will provide the development of a comprehensive voice to data coverage and a telecommunication strategy in the villages to drive up mobile connectivity," said Ericsson CEO Carl-Henrik Svanberg at the news conference in Nairobi. At the same time, mobile connectivity and handsets are expected to jump-start rural economies in Africa. Leonard Waverman, chairman of the economics department at the London Business School, published a study in 2005 estimating that the GDP of developing countries rises by .06% for every 10% growth in the number of mobile phone subscribers. "Mobile communication is perhaps the single most transformative technology for rural African villages," said economist Jeffrey Sachs, the director of The Earth Institute, in a statement, "to improve access to health care and education, create new business opportunities and access to markets, and ultimately to help eradicate extreme poverty." Let's hear it for mobile technology -- and enlightened capitalism.
About the Author(s)
You May Also Like