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Cordelia Salter-Nour

Somalia has already proved the case for the mobile. A strategically placed satellite made it possible for expatriate Somalis to tell their families directly about money they were sending home. Before the mobiles they had to send instructions through middle-men who often stole it or tricked the recipients out of the money. All poor communities have expatriates but after they leave it is hard - if not impossible - for them to keep in touch and help out in times of difficulty

The majority of the poor are illiterate so before they could benefit from traditional ICTs they would have to learn to read, write and type - even if their language was digitized. Speaking is much more efficient

The mobile as it is now is still out of reach for the world's poor who have yet to benefit from such cutting edge technology as clean water and electricity. But a give-away, solar charged or wind up mobile that was free to use could be really useful...

Steve Cisler

The wind-up radios have not been that successful in Africa, but you are right that the price of cell phones still cuts out a lot of people. Entrepreneurs will rent out cell phones for single calls in some countries, and the pre-paid cards are a way that credit-poor users can budget for calls.

I was working in rural Uganda and staying in a modest hotel. The woman cleaning the floors near the checkout counter had a cell phone at her waist. I asked if she used it much, and she said, "yes, when I can afford air time to call my relatives in Kampala." Clearly it was also a status symbol as well as a useful tool.

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