The Voices of Progress event held yesterday in London brought together Markus Boser of J.P. Morgan, Greg Reeve from M-Pesa, Mary McDowell of Nokia and developmental economist and social media entrepreneur Mara Batlin for a stimulating discussion on the role of mobile phones in poverty eradication. The speakers touched upon issues as diverse as government payment of police officers by mobile in Afghanistan, through Nigeria’s insistence on the digitisation of almost all public services, to how to combat mobile hacking.
The overriding message from the event was that even despite the regulatory difficulties that many mobile operators face when working in developing countries, the use of mobile phones for development enjoys a bright future. With 5bn of the world’s 6.8bn people having access to a handset, mobiles offer an unparalleled opportunity in the global fight against poverty. The number of programmes and systems is growing every day and while some will inevitably fall by the wayside, others will continue to grow and prosper.
All in all, a stimulating and thought-provoking event.