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Mobile telephony impact on rural communities

08 October 2009

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e-agriculture’s policy brief Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas discusses the use of mobiles in creating economic opportunities and strengthening social networks in rural areas. It examines the challenges faced in terms of interventions and impacts on rural communities and underlines the need for appropriate policies to ensure benefits.

Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas

Publisher: e-agriculture, March 2009

Mobile phones have successfully bridged the rural digital divide. This policy brief looks into the challenges that rural communities face in enhancing the benefits of mobile telephony, and cites some examples of interesting initiatives and good outcomes from around the globe.

Image credits: e-agriculture/ Mobile telephony used for rural development

The document highlights some unique opportunities mobile telephony creates in rural regions, including:

  • providing a direct global communication channel to rural communities;
  • extending the impact of established rural media, such as rural radio;
  • making local content available; and
  • making rural services more efficient (logistics, coordination, etc) and cost-effective.

With growing awareness of mobile telephony in rural areas, the technology is expected to reduce costs of information access in agriculture.

It plays a role in planning and setting up systems for disaster management, place greater emphasis on rural enterprise and partnership networks distributing mobile handsets at little or no cost to resource-poor farmers, to enable communication help establish large-scale interventions through small-scale pilot initiatives.

Maybe in a more systematic manner and to share user-generated multimedia content describing indigenous knowledge.

While strong anecdotal evidence exists of positive outcomes from the use of mobile telephony, there is a lack of large-scale interventions and hard evidence of impact in rural areas.

It cites some steps for policymakers and stakeholders:

  • encouraging appropriate legislation and policies to enables rural enterprises to develop business models that exploit mobile telephony;
  • gathering evidence of impact through carefully planned monitoring and evaluation;
  • documenting and disseminating good practices gathered from successful innovations which have had an clear impact on rural livelihoods, and can be replicated elsewhere; and
  •  tailoring applications specifically to address the needs of rural communities.
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