New Report Shows 75% of the World's Population Uses Mobile Phones

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By Mary Elaine Ramos | July 18, 2012 5:14 PM EST

A new report done by World Bank and infoDev revealed that 75 per cent of the world's population are using mobile phones and have mobile access. This means that mobile communications is now entering a new and bigger level.

The report, titled as " Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile", revealed that the number of mobile subscriptions that are currently used worldwide (both pre-paid and post-paid) has grown from 1 billion in 2000 to 6 billion for the year 2012. Five billion out the 6 billion users were from developing countries. The report also revealed that more than 30 billion mobile applications or "apps" where downloaded in 2011. Some of the most commonly downloaded apps include mobile wallets, navigational aides, and price comparison tools. Most of the subscribers in developing countries expressed that they are utilising mobile phones in order to enhance their lifestyles.

Rachel Kyte, the World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, provided an explanation for this trend stating that "Mobile communications offer major opportunities to advance human and economic development - from providing basic access to health information to making cash payments, spurring job creation, and stimulating citizen involvement in democratic processes. The challenge now is to enable people, businesses, and governments in developing countries to develop their own locally-relevant mobile applications so they can take full advantage of these opportunities."

The report also disclosed how developing countries are taking advantage of mobile phones as to how it can improve their lives. Here are some of the examples stated in the report:

India - The 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.

Kenya - It has emerged as a leading player in mobile for development, largely due to the success of the M-PESA mobile payment ecosystem.  Nairobi-based AkiraChix, for example, provides networking and training for women technologists.

Palestine - Souktel's JobMatch service is helping young people find jobs.  College graduates using the service reported a reduction in the time spent looking for employment from an average of twelve weeks to one week or less, and an increase in wages of up to 50 per cent.

Tim Kelly, Lead ICT Policy specialist at the World Bank and one of the authors in the report, described this situation stating that "The mobile revolution is right at the start of its growth curve: mobile devices are becoming cheaper and more powerful while networks are doubling in bandwidth roughly every 18 months and expanding into rural areas."

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