mBillionth Award 2013 : High Powered Inaugural Session

South Asian International Exchange 

FOCUS: MOBILES FOR EMPOWERMENT

The session started with Mr. Osama talking about mobile penetration, with the rural penetration being 333 million and the urban penetration being 528 million. And the absolute number of mobile users is 300 million. So, he talked about how there’s still a long way to go to achieve full mobile connectivity, as from the data above, we can conclude that a single person holds a multiple number of sims.

 

N Ravi Shankar | Administrator, USOF & MD, BBNL
He talked about Universal Obligation Fund which spreads rural administrative service, rural telephony and telecom. The National Telecom Policy states that we need to take mobile coverage across all parts of the country and everybody has access to it. And it comes into action where commercial considerations are not a factor. He talked about mobile towers in sparsely populated areas, about broadband connection and how the socio-economic development is linked with the growth of ITC infrastructure. Somewhere down the line, mobile communication has helped people come above the below poverty line. The broadband to the Panchayats is to be created through the National Optical Fibre Network. It calls for mobile coverage in rural areas and all categories of e-services to be facilitated in these areas by integrating banking, education, work etc. Also, the broadband wireless will be built ensuring full connectivity, lots of content, proper cost of devices, and computer literacy. Thus, they want to transform the mobile phone from a simple object of desire to an instrument of empowerment.

 

R. Sukumar, | Editor, Mint Newspaper
He focussed on the kind of challenges that we face as we strive towards empowering this nation with mobile phones, like data security and data privacy, open transactions not being allowed, etc. The RBI has to come forward and encourage mobile banking and mobile commerce in a better and open way, by stopping to represent the interest of banks and focus on the cashless transactions of this country. He wants the focus to shift from utilitarian services to apps which can be scaled across the country and around the world. He wanted for the entrepreneurs to come up with apps and products that can be transplanted, bridging the digital divide.

 

Dr Rajendra Kumar, | Joint Secretary (mGov), Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeITY)
He talked about how DIT has come up with a number of new initiatives to bridge the digital divide and the governance divide. He said mobiles can enhance the visibility and the transparency of the government, making the officers responsible and accountable while they deal with the citizens. He also talked about how they can enhance the developmental impacts and outcomes in areas like agriculture, health related issues, etc. Mobiles can also help in engaging with citizens in new and innovative ways, and obtain real time feedback from the citizens. Mobile governance hence can enhance the quality of services provided to the citizens.

 

Tomi T. Ahonen, | Author, Consultant & Motivational Speaker, Hong Kong
He talked about the empowerment side of mobile, and of the radio component inside of our mobile phones, and how it can be broadcast and used commercially. He talked about how connecting with each other at Tahrier Square through the mobile phones led to the overthrowing of the government; how in Nigeria where its constitution was spread through mobile phones for everybody to read; how in USA, health monitoring and the onset of an epidemic is are brought to light using mobile phone; how human trafficking can be monitored through mobiles and help in capturing the culprits; how in Guatemala, news about national emergencies and disasters are spread through mobile phones; how Pakistan is helping treat adult female literacy through mobile phone services; how Estonia introduced voting by mobile phones. Thus, it is the defining aspect of empowerment in this world.

 

Reshan Dewapura | , CEO, ICTA, Govt. of Sri Lanka
He talked about how mobile revolution has a big role to play in the development and transformation of this country. And applications and content are a major factor in this. He talked about mobile phone penetration in Sri Lanka which is 124%. Mobile is a tool which everyone has access to. In their E-development roadmap, they are using mobile technology to create services and deliver them to the citizens. Lanka Gate, which is the e-service delivery platform, recognises mobile phones as a key delivery channel enabling a number of services. The government service delivery notification through sms is also in effect. A number of ICT based applications are using mobile technology to take its benefits to rural areas, by providing them with crop information, harvest details, market prices of produce, fishing information, educational material, etc. The regulator has reduced the telecommunication tax by 50%, promoting the use of broadband and mobile services in the country.

 

Rohit Adya, | External Affairs Director, Vodafone India Limited
He talked about the pace at which mobile internet has been growing, and driving the growth of data in the country. The mobile phone has been an all-encompassing tool which provides mobility in everyday life. He talks about the 3 E’s for which it could be used, Education, Empowerment and Elaboration on how that can be further used on mobile banking, mobile health and mobile agriculture. It has become a necessity and a way of life.

 

mohammad choudhary | Executive Director, Telecoms Industry Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers
He talked about the ways in which mobiles could enable our lives in the next few years. Looking at healthcare, in the next 5 years, M Health interventions could save a million lives from diseases in Africa. Looking at education, M Education interventions in developing countries could enable 180 million to be enrolled in schools. There can also be a reduction in food wastage which could feed 30 million people in Nigeria by 2017. He talked about harnessing the power that the people in this room have to scale things in India and empower its people.

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