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The Importance of Being Connected

Getting Regulation Right Blog Aspect
Dr Archana Gulati
Published Sep 28, 2013
Updated Sep 03, 2023
I quote below from two studies.They highlightsthe importance of connectivity for political, social and economic development and underline how ICTs help bridge the lack of infrastructure in developing countries, thereby contributing to citizens’ empowerment and growth.
The first is  “Measuring the Impact of Broadband on Income” by Ericsson. The second is a study by Vodafone Institute for Society & Communications titled “Mobile Technologies the Digital Fabric of our Lives.”   The first study focuses on impact of broadband access and speed on income. It indicates inter alia that for Brazil, China & India(BIC), even a 0.5 Mb broadband connections increases household income by USD 800 per annum. Further, “[i]n  BIC countries, upgrading from 0.5 to 4 Mbps increases income by USD 46 per month.” (Access to more sophisticated services ” boosts personal productivity and teleworking and telecommuting allow for more flexible work arrangements.”
A longer quote (below) from the second study reiterates the importance of mobile phones which continue to predominate in countries like India with very low fixed line penetration.
In developing countries, mobile phones have changed everyday lives for many people. Often, mobile phones are the only accessible and functioning infrastructure. As a result, it is unsurprising that people have become inventive by using their mobile phones to replace or create other societal and economic institutions thatwere inefficient or sometimes non-existent. M-Pesa, for instance, has enabled millions of Kenyans to transfer money without having to travel. It is the most successful mobile banking service in the world, but by far not the only one: around the globe, more than 150 mobile banking systems have been introduced, mainly in developing countries. A similar pattern was found regarding the impact of mobile phone subscriptions on social development. 
  • [M]odels show that more mobile phone subscriptions correlate with more democratic participation, less gender inequality and more time in education. Our results support this evidence on the macro-level across a sample of 202 countries. They show a significant relationship between the number of mobile phone subscriptions and the voice and accountability index, which is taken as a proxy for democratisation. This relationship is more pronounced in developing countries as there is naturally more scope for improvement in relation to political participation. 
  • Women and girls are often the most vulnerable members of communities in developing countries. Their access to the outer world is often very limited and they have to cope with numerous hurdles. First and foremost, they have to ensure the health and well-being of their families and changing their traditionally assigned roles is often the only way forward. The connectedness and   communication without intervention by (male) others can facilitate such a change and reduce gender inequality. Our model across 148 countries supports this idea based on macro-economic data. It shows that with increasing mobile phone subscriptions gender inequality decreases. Again, the effect is most visible in developing countries.
  • Mobile phones can have two major types of effects on education:the most direct impact is the use of education via SMS texts or mobile applications, which can reach children as well as adults tend to be larger in developing countries. 
  •  In practice, mobile phones fill the gap that other poor or non-existent infrastructure in these countries leave wide open. It is therefore not surprising that many innovations related to mobile phones are adopted more quickly in developing countries than in developed countries. 
  • Finally, mobile phones are often the first and only way of communication without having to travel under difficult circumstances.