Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa

45 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2010  

Jenny C. Aker

Tufts University - The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; Center for Global Development

Isaac M. Mbiti

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 1, 2010

Abstract

Jenny Aker and Isaac Mbiti examine the growth of mobile phone technology over the past decade and consider its potential impacts upon quality of life in low-income countries, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa. They first provide an overview of the patterns and determinants of mobile phone coverage in sub-Saharan Africa before describing the characteristics of primary and secondary mobile phone adopters on the continent. They then discuss the channels through which mobile phone technology can impact development outcomes, both as a positive externality of the communication sector and as part of mobile phone-based development projects, and analyze existing evidence. While current research suggests that mobile phone coverage and adoption have had positive impacts on agricultural and labor market efficiency and welfare in certain countries, empirical evidence is still somewhat limited. In addition, mobile phone technology cannot serve as the “silver bullet” for development in sub-Saharan Africa. Careful impact evaluations of mobile phone development projects are required to better understand their impacts upon economic and social outcomes, and mobile phone technology must work in partnership with other public good provision and investment.

Suggested Citation

Aker, Jenny C. and Mbiti, Isaac M., Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa (June 1, 2010). Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 211. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1693963 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1693963

Jenny C. Aker (Contact Author)

Tufts University - The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States

Center for Global Development ( email )

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Isaac M. Mbiti

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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