Mobile networks are increasingly transforming our lives in numerous ways. This phenomenon is most compelling in emerging and developing markets. Technological platforms – first mobile, and now broadband – are unique levelers for society. They enable access to economic opportunities and social welfare which would previously have been out of reach for many.
In India, farmers are among the major beneficiaries of the mobile revolution. Bharti Airtel reaches out to more than one million farmers, contributing significantly to their productivity and incomes. Through its joint venture with Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), the world’s largest fertilizer cooperative, farmers are provided with vital information on weather, commodity prices, agronomy, horticulture and government schemes.
This assists them to make timely, informed decisions. With more than two-thirds of India’s population dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, the impact is significant.
Mobile money is another revolution which has steadily emerged as a critical driver of inclusive growth in India and Africa. According to the Boston Consulting Group, US$ 350 billion is expected to be channeled through this medium by 2015 in India alone.
Airtel Money, present in fifteen African countries and India, enables unbanked citizens to join the financial mainstream. This is achieved by facilitating money transfers, which would otherwise be impossible or prohibitively expensive.
With 0.6 doctors for every 1000 people, access to affordable, quality healthcare is a distant hope for a vast majority of the Indian population. Airtel’s m-Health service, Mediphone, is a doctor-on-call service, providing customers with quality health advice over mobile phones – anytime, anywhere. Launched in November 2011, Mediphone has already helped nearly 100,000 people. With more than 900 million mobile subscribers in the country, the potential to bridge the gap for medical support is tremendous.
The power to progress well-being through the mobile phone is, perhaps, best exemplified in a pilot led by The Earth Institute. In this initiative, Airtel is supporting a host of innovative programmes in villages across six countries in Africa. Under this programme, Airtel enables citizens to access education, health and solar energy through mobile connectivity.
As the data revolution transforms mobile, the opportunities for enhancing economic well-being through mobile broadband are endless. Smartphones and feature phones are already becoming cheaper. A nurturing regulatory landscape will provide the catalyst for realizing the transformative impact of the broadband revolution.