Some 75 percent of all the world’s people now have a mobile phone, according to the World Bank and infoDev, its technology entrepreneurship and innovation program. In fact, the number of mobile subscriptions in low- and middle-income countries increased by more than 1,500 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 4 to 72 per 100 inhabitants, the World Bank says.
The number of mobile subscriptions in use worldwide, both pre-paid and post-paid, has grown from fewer than one billion in 2000 to over six billion now, of which nearly five billion are in use in developing countries.
Ownership of multiple subscriptions is becoming increasingly common, suggesting that their number will soon exceed that of the human population, the World Bank also says.
Before the expansion of mobile networks, agricultural producers were often unaware of these prices and had to rely on information from traders and agents to determine whether, when, where, or for how much to sell their crops.
The resulting “information asymmetry” often results in price dispersion—drastically different prices for the same products in markets only short distances apart—and thus lost income for some farmers and higher prices for consumers.
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of communications in promoting access to price information, including increases of up to 24 percent in incomes for farmers and up to 57 percent for traders and price reductions of around four percent for consumers depending on the crop, country, and year of study, the World Bank says.
One study conducted in Niger from 2001 to 2006 found that the introduction of mobile phones had reduced grain price dispersion by 6.4 percent and reduced price variation by 12 percent over the course of one year, the report says.
Applications now are moving to the forefront as "access" becomes nearly universal, the report also maintains.
Download the report here.
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