jueves, 15 de octubre de 2009

The mobile phone revolution (just innovation as long as there are free markets to compete)

Aquí el documento de The Economist: un survey al impacto de la adopción cuasi universal del "teléfono" móvil

Son buenas noticias:

El "teléfono" móvil (queremos decir en este caso la tecnología aplicada a las necesidades de la persona y de la convivencia) está logrando 1) que los mercados funcionen mejor, 2) que la política (si es que cabe) funcione mejor, 3) que la vida del día a día (fuera de las ciudades) funcione mejor

Extracto de apertura:

"BOUNCING a great-grandchild on her knee in her house in Bukaweka, a village in eastern Uganda, Mary Wokhwale gestures at her surroundings. “My mobile phone has been my livelihood,” she says. In 2003 Ms Wokhwale was one of the first 15 women in Uganda to become “village phone” operators. Thanks to a microfinance loan, she was able to buy a basic handset and a roof-mounted antenna to ensure a reliable signal. She went into business selling phone calls to other villagers, making a small profit on each call. This enabled her to pay back her loan and buy a second phone. The income from selling phone calls subsequently enabled her to set up a business selling beer, open a music and video shop and help members of her family pay their children’s school fees. Business has dropped off somewhat in the past couple of years as mobile phones have fallen in price and many people in her village can afford their own. But Ms Wokhwale’s life has been transformed..."

Extracto de cómo opera ese mejor funcionamiento de los mercados:

"One example is the analysis of fish prices on the coast of Kerala, in southern India, carried out in 2007 by Robert Jensen, an economist at Harvard University. By examining historical price data as mobile-phone coverage was extended down the coast between 1997 and 2001, Mr Jensen was able to show that access to mobile phones made markets much more efficient. Fishermen could call several markets while still at sea before deciding where to sell instead of taking their catch back to their home market and throwing it away if there were no buyers for it. This eliminated waste, dramatically reduced the variation in prices along the coast, brought down consumer prices by 4% and increased fishermen’s profits by 8%. Mobile phones paid for themselves within two months. Mr Jensen concluded that “information makes markets work, and markets improve welfare.”..."

Extracto de cómo opera ese mejor funcionamiento de la política:

"But the benefits of mobile phones are not just economic; there are political and social advantages too. FrontlineSMS, a system that allows groups to communicate via text messages, is being used to report human-rights violations and co-ordinate aid and conservation projects, among many other things. Ushahidi (Swahili for “testimony”), a website set up in response to the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008, allows mobile phones to be used for crisis and disaster management. In India’s election this year voters were able to use their handsets to call up information about candidates, such as their educational background and any criminal charges they might be facing.

Mobile phones have been used for election monitoring in countries including Nigeria, Kenya and Sierra Leone. Reporting vote totals by phone from polling stations to local radio stations makes it harder to fiddle the results later. And text messaging has been used to co-ordinate political protests in many countries. “Mobile phones play a really wonderful role in enabling civil society,” says Mr Ibrahim, who has set up a foundation to improve transparency and governance in Africa. “As well as empowering people economically and socially, they are a wonderful political tool.”

Mr Impio cites the popularity of call-in radio shows in Kenya as another example of how mobile phones can make politics more transparent. “People have phones, and when politics is being discussed they can call anonymously and say things journalists cannot discuss,” he says. “Newspapers have started to quote them, and journalists say it has given them more freedom to discuss corruption.”..."

Innovación (la respuesta) en dónde más lo exigen las condiciones económicas:

Fuente: The Economist

Extractos de el móvil como posibilidad del conocimiento experto al alcance de todos: el del técnico agricultor, el del médico, el del especialista en el clima; y además un banco, sin "bancarizarse", al alcance de la mano...

1. "IN A field just outside the village of Bumwambu in eastern Uganda, surrounded by banana trees and cassava, with chickens running between the mud-brick houses, Frederick Makawa is thinking about tomatoes. It is late June and the rainy season is coming to an end. Tomatoes are a valuable cash crop during the coming dry season and Mr Makawa wants to plant his seedlings as soon as possible. But Uganda’s traditional growing seasons are shifting, so he is worried about droughts or flash floods that could destroy his crop. Michael Gizamba, a local village-phone operator, offers to help using Farmer’s Friend, an agricultural-information service. He sends a text message to ask for a seasonal weather forecast for the region. Before long a reply arrives to say that normal, moderate rainfall is expected during July. Mr Makawa decides to plant his tomatoes..."

2. "Lastly there is Google Trader, a text-based system that matches buyers and sellers of agricultural produce and commodities. Sellers send a message to say where they are and what they have to offer, which will be available to potential buyers within 30km for seven days. Mr Makawa says his father used the service to look for a buyer for some pigs, which he sold to pay school fees. These services cost 110 shillings ($0.05) a time, the same as a standard text message, except for Google Trader, which costs double that. In their first five weeks the services received a total of more than 1m queries..."

3. "Mobile phones are also being used in health care. One-way text alerts, sent to everyone in a particular area, can be used to raise awareness of HIV; sending daily text messages to patients can help them remember to take their drugs for tuberculosis or HIV. Mobile phones can be used to gather health information in the field faster and more accurately than paper records and help with the management of drug stocks. Camera-phones are used to send pictures to remote specialists for diagnosis..."

4. "Bright Simons, a Ghanaian social entrepreneur, has devised a phone-based system called mPedigree to tackle the problem of counterfeit drugs. Some 10-25% of all drugs sold are fakes, according to the World Health Organisation, and in some countries the proportion can be as high as 80%. Under Mr Simons’ scheme, which is being implemented in Nigeria and Ghana, a scratch-off panel on the packaging reveals a code which can be texted to a special number to verify that the drugs are genuine. Most mobile-health projects are still at the trial stage, but a report compiled in 2008 by the UN Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation documented around 50 such projects across the developing world. Studies are now under way to quantify their benefits..."

5. "Suppose you want to send money from the city back to your family in the country. You could travel to the village and deliver the cash in person, but that takes time and money. Or you could ask an intermediary, such as a bus driver, to deliver the money, but that can be risky. More simply, you could buy a top-up voucher for the amount you want to transfer (say, $10) and then call the village-phone operator or shopkeeper in your family’s village and read out the code on the voucher. The credit will be applied to the phone of the shopkeeper, who will hand cash to your family, minus a commission of 10-20%. In some countries, where airtime can be transferred directly from one phone to another by text message, the process is even simpler: load credit onto your phone, then send it to someone on the spot who in return gives cash to your intended recipient..."

¿Qué podemos decir?

1. Que en verdad, queda demostrado, sólo las barreras artificiales a la libre competencia, limitan qué tan lejos puede llegar el esfuerzo empresario y corporativo para construir ofertas valiosas para todos

2. Que en dónde más exigentes son las condiciones para la innovación -pobreza extrema de la población- más valor puede lograrse pues más profunda es la necesidad y urgencia de dicha población

3. Que el desarrollo tecnológico es de un poder insospechado, sin duda, y ya lo sabíamos; lo que no hemos aún aprendido es cuánto de ese poder puede ser puesto al servicio del bien (estar por ejemplo) cuando son liberadas las fuerzas del emprendimiento y la innovación

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