eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 1

Notes from the World Bank eDevelopment Thematic Group workshop on “Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation – From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation on 16 September in Washington DC.


Session 1: Overview of Mobile Innovations Space and Enabling Environment


Chair Introduction: Deepak Bhatia, Lead e-Government Specialist, GICT

There are a lot of mobile projects in place, but what does it take in terms of scaling up mobile solutions and really creating impact


Oleg Petrov – Social networking and the webcast

Twitter, blog coverage by ICT4D.at – hashtag for Twitter is mobile09


Opening Remarks: Philippe Dongier, Sector Manager, GICT
The Opportunity for Mobile Services in Developing World

There are many impressive stories how mobiles are used

The World Bank believes that mobile technology is the way forward

But there has been no major impact, the potential of ICTs has not yet been realized so far

Mobile technology may change this in the near future – it’s quite transformational, every sector has to be creative to find solutions to also transform the own sector and realize the opportunities


Brooke Partridge, CEO, Vital Wave Consulting

M-Pesa: example for the incredible potential of formally addressing basic needs

It’s not the technology itself, but what it can do what is exciting

Subscriber market gets saturated very quick, 64% of users are in the developing world

Pressure for mobile operators: offering more mServices in developing countries

There are about 3.5 billion individual subscribers in the world

Development of m-Services because new subscriber market is saturated and people desire for basic services

mServices to meet basic human needs and for social services, especially in developing countries

A lot of mServices can be provided by simple technology such as SMS

  • there are a lot of examples in BRIC countries which are already in use and successful
  • but a lot of them are pilots and have not been scaled

Benefits of scaling services:

  • increased revenue of provider -> increasing incentives to create services
  • reaching larger populations
  • reduced unit costs
  • more efficiency by investing in improved technology

Examples of projects that are reaching some scale:

  • mFinance: M-Pesa – sms based mobile account & money transfer; very successful but very unique and faces its own challenges
  • mCommerce: Souktel Jobmatch – mobile job marketplace, 8000 total users

Value chain for mServices – very complex in terms of organizations involved, problematic for scaling

The technology for mServices is there, what needed is innovations in business

Opportunities and best practices for scaling:

  • stay in national borders
  • transfer pilot programs to more formal organizations
  • rigorous ROI analysis
  • keep it simple
  • development of government regulations

Challenges to scale:

  • legal concerns, interoperability & regulations
  • priorities & risks
  • infrastructure & leadership
  • ecosystem

Opportunities for World Bank impact – investments to enable scale in the private sector, funding & oversight of mServices business case

  • research, analysis & evaluation – national policies, user behaviour, impact
  • mServices Solution Development Toolkit


Commentary: Yong Huyn Kwon, Sr. Information Officer, GICT

several themes we have to think about

governments play big role in the early stages, but private sector comes in later

several questions that are hard to answer

  • are private and public sector doing their job well?
  • are all sectors cooperating with each other?
  • are there mediators or enablers who take the leading role in communication between the sectors?

it’s difficult for the private sector to play the role the public one should play

when we think about people in developing countries – are they only costumers or owners of their own industry?

industry regulation is a big issue

several problems are hard to solve for the private sector alone – cooperation with the public sector is essential

Rajendra Singh, Sr. Regulatory Specialist, GICT

A lot of changes are taking place in the mobile industry

  • Nokia considers itself no more as the absolute leader
  • iPhone has changed the market

World Bank is involved in most sectors in developing and also aware of mobile technology

Unique possibility to make development projects more efficient

Big challenge for policy makers & regulators – the whole market is changing


Q & A

relation between income & mobile footprint – how was that calculated?

mGovernment applications in Africa – isn’t the tipping point between SMS and mobile web coming closer? what are you suggestions concerning that?

  • Brook; it’s not time yet due to infrastructure and devices
  • Phillipe: depending in the field we want to work there is potential – e.g. equipping health workers with modern devices and targetting them specifically

technical question concerning the real number of mobile subscribers (3.5 bill) – what was your methodology? I think it’s too high

  • taking numbers from the ITU of subscriptions, 90% of total are the addressable market in a population, everything above that was considered to be duplicate

Moldova: mobile carriers get 40% of revenue, value added services should be offered; quasi monopolistic situation, we need regulations

  • World Bank already does research on real impact and regulations – that’s what the support of the World Bank should look like

is scale the only possibility to achieve profit or are private-public partnerships also an option?

if we are concerned about scale – what about the interoperability of mobile devices; how do we really pick up every user of mobile devices when there are so large gaps in the user groups;

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 1
was published on 16.09.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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  1. ICT4D.at » Blog Archive » eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation - Aftermath Says:

    […] Part 1 focused on an Overview of Mobile Innovations Space and Enabling Environment […]