Author: World Bank
Size: 244 pages (21 MB)
This report notes that around three-quarters of the world's inhabitants now have access to a mobile phone. It examines the rise of data-based services delivered to handheld devices, including apps, and explores the consequences for development of the emerging 'app economy'. The report finds that mobile applications not only empower individuals but have important cascade effects stimulating growth, entrepreneurship, and productivity throughout the economy. It looks at key ecosystem-based applications in agriculture, health, financial services, employment, and government, and recommends policy action that addresses both the supply- and demand-sides of the mobile broadband ecosystem.
Engaging mobile applications for development requires an enabling 'ecosystem'. The applications that may prove most useful for development are those usually developed within an ecosystem that involves many different players, including software developers, content providers, network operators, device manufacturers, governments, and users. Policymakers need to create an environment in which players can collaborate as well as compete.
The report argues that now is the time to evaluate what works and to move toward the commercialisation, replication, and scaling up of those mobile apps that drive development. Until recently, most services using mobiles for development were based on text messaging. Now, the development of inexpensive smartphones and the spread of mobile broadband networks are transforming the range of possible applications.
Appropriate policy action requires addressing both the supply- and demand-sides of the mobile broadband ecosystem. Policymakers need to evaluate local market conditions before applying specific policies addressing bottlenecks or market failures. The most common breakdowns on the supply side are lack of available spectrum and inadequate backbone networks; on the demand side, the main constraints are lack of affordable mobile devices and broadband services, as well as limited local applications and content.
World Bank (2012) 'Maximizing Mobile: 2012 Information and Communications for Development Report', Washington DC: World Bank