Still on the same subject of making change with the cellphone for BoP (Bottom of the Pyramid) communities across the world.
Mobile phones have the potential to contribute significantly to economic growth in the developing world, in both the private and public sector. From improving market information for fish traders in Lake Victoria, to enabling medical outreach services in rural South Asia, the mobile is a versatile and adaptable tool. What impact can mobiles have on those previously excluded from financial services and communications networks? Which policies will help turn the promise of mobiles into real benefits for the poorest people? ~ Kiwanja.net
Grassroots innovation in cellular technology. Let the customers tell you what they want, and adapt technology to their needs. Like the above ad for a cellphone in Uganda that doubles as a flashlight. Go beyond what you see and dig deeper. In Africa that means that people are widely using cellphones, all the way in the remote rural areas, where power and access to water is still a major challenge… it’s often non-existent!
An excerpt from Ken Banks’ presentation from a recent speaking engagement:
The future isn’t all about hardware, of course. Some of the most exciting innovations we’ve seen in recent years have come from mobile services. Innovation for many is centered more around what you can do with a mobile device, rather than what you can make out of one. Financial services, for example, promise to “bank the unbanked” and provide unprecedented access for some of the poorest members of society in many developing countries. Mobile banking in places like the U.K. and U.S. lags some way behind.
My belief is that many future mobile innovations will be borne out of the realities of the developing world. In my “developed” world, where friends leave household appliances on standby for weeks on end, energy efficient mobile devices are seen as something of a luxury. For a mobile phone owner in, say, Uganda – with little access to mains electricity – it’s more of a necessity.
I also believe – along with many others – that as devices get smarter, faster and more powerful, the challenges of power consumption will continue to consume large chunks of R&D effort. A recent announcement from the Chinese Academy of Sciences of a highly-efficient solar cell that can effectively be embedded in plastic could give us a glimpse of a future where the entire housing of mobile phones become one large solar panel, along with our clothes. Advances in harnessing kinetic energy could also give us self-charging mobiles, akin to our already-present self-winding watches. Perhaps the challenges of keeping mobile devices powered up will lead to a convergence where a number of charging technologies are present in a single device.
Looking even further ahead, mobile devices may also be chargeable wirelessly over distance. Perhaps by a method of charging via the same wireless networks that carry our mobile signal. I’d hate to think about the health implications of this, or how inefficient these charging networks might be, but it’s not out-of-the-question that this becomes reality. Again, this technology would most likely emerge from developing countries, where vast numbers of potential customers are excluded from phone ownership because they lack of access to power to charge them. Whether this wireless charging future happens before the converged renewable option discussed remains to be seen.
Inspiration: Ken Bank’s Kiwanja Blog