Podcast episodes

Episode #25: Can mobile phones help to end poverty? – Rosa Wang

mobile phones being displayed on the ground in a market with two salespersons sitting alongside

Finding out about prices, checking the balance on your bank account and sending money to others – mobile phones can make all this a lot easier. From farmers in Tanzania to female market traders in Ghana, digital technology can help to communicate with others, access information or use of financial services. In doing so, it can help accelerate the fight against poverty.

The use of mobile technology is not a magic bullet, however. Access to a mobile phone is key and many – especially women – do not own a device of their own or have to negotiate usage with their husbands. Lack of confidence and opposition to use of digital technology as well as concerns about consumer protection are also issues to be taken into account.

In this episode, we speak with Rosa Wang. Rosa is Senior Advisor and former Global Director for Digital Financial Services at Opportunity International. She is also author of the book ‘Strong Connections. Stories of resilience from the far reaches of the mobile phone revolution’. Based on her experiences working in the field of digital inclusion, Rosa weaves together stories of how mobile technology has impacted the lives of people living on low income, from Ghana to India and Tanzania.

Rosa shares many powerful insights into how digital services can enhance people’s livelihoods. She is also honest about some of the challenges, such as making technology work for women and ensuring that personal data is used for the right purposes. On balance, she believes it is worthwhile to promote the shift towards mobile technologies as it allows for reaching larger populations at reasonable cost. This positive view complements the discussion on risks of digitisation of services that we discussed in an earlier episode. Let us know what you think!

Photo credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh

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