Around three-quarters of the world’s population now have access to a mobile phone, according to a new report from the World Bank and infoDev, its technology entrepreneurship and innovation program. The number of mobile subscriptions in use worldwide, both pre-paid and post-paid, has grown from fewer than 1 billion in 2000 to over 6 billion now, of which nearly 5 billion in developing countries. What’s more, ownership of multiple subscriptions is becoming increasingly common, suggesting that their number will soon exceed that of the human population.
The report titled “Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile” also noted that over 30 billion mobile apps were downloaded in 2011. In developing countries, citizens are increasingly using mobile phones to create new livelihoods and enhance their lifestyles, while governments are using them to improve service delivery and citizen feedback mechanisms.
For instance, India’s state of Kerala’s mGovernment program has deployed over 20 applications and facilitated more than 3 million interactions between the government and citizens since its launch in December 2010. In Kenya, people are paying using their mobile phones with M-PESA service; Nairobi-based AkiraChix provides networking and training for women technologists; while in Palestine, Souktel’s JobMatch service is helping young people find jobs… Pretty cool to see the mobile technology changing livelihoods for the better all around the world.