The internet: the $2.2 trillion answer to global poverty

Millions of people can be lifted out of poverty and trillions of dollars can be added to the GDP of developing countries by increasing the number of people who are connected to the internet, a new report has said.

Commissioned by social media behemoth Facebook, the study  found that $2.2 trillion in GDP can be created along with 140m jobs, which will lift 160m people out of poverty, as well as saving millions of lives.

It says increased internet access would be able to deliver critical information on nutrition, hygiene and disease prevention to those who need it the most.

Once people are connected to the internet they are able to gain access to basic tools such as health information, financial services and education, which can help them live better lives and move into the world’s economy.

The 56 page report was produced by professional service firm Deloitte on behalf of the social media company and the Internet.org movement.

The movement, which includes Nokia, Opera, Samsung, Qualcomm and Mediatek as founders, seeks to develop and provide technology that decreases the cost of delivering data to people worldwide. It also wants to expand internet access to everyone.

Currently internet penetration in developed countries such as America and Singapore is around 74% and is significantly higher than areas like India (13%), and Africa (20%). This equates to just 800m out of the 3.8bn people in the countries covered by the study having access to the internet at present.

The study says: “The world’s unconnected are more likely to face challenges related to high levels of poverty and limited social inclusion. Income levels are a key barrier to internet access, and internet penetration is often the lowest in countries with the lowest GDP per capita.”

The benefits of being able to access the most basic information – which could be provided in a low data-intensive text based forms – would help to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

Out of the regions covered by the study, India would be boosted by 65m new jobs, which would lead to an increase in the rate of growth of GDP by 110% and decrease extreme poverty by 28%.

Connectivity providing health information to those living in Africa could save almost 1m lives lost to general health issues and increase the lifespan of 2.2m HIV and AIDS patients.

The report says: “As a global partnership, Internet.org is working to harness the experience, wisdom and resources of people and companies across the world to understand and solve the challenges of the connectivity gap. Driven by this goal, Facebook engaged Deloitte to assess the economic and social impact of extending Internet access in the developing world.

“This report is the outcome of that initiative. And Deloitte’s conclusions are compelling: global connectivity will help lift millions out of poverty and drive important positive social and economic change.”


Image courtesy of Charles Fred / Flickr under Creative Commons.


The rucksack bringing mobile phone coverage to disaster zones

A portable mobile phone network that can be carried in a backpack will help to save lives and broadcast crucial information in disaster zones across the world.

People suffering from the effects of earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes and tropical storms will be able to make calls and send text messages when in the close vicinity to the portable network.

The ‘Instant Network Mini’ was announced by mobile and communication giants Vodafone and weighs just 11kg – about the same as 100 bars of chocolate.

The shiny new backpack is ideal for use in emergency situations where there is no mobile connection and will allow those trying to co-ordinate aid and broadcast important health messages to those in the areas.

The backpack can be taken on planes as hand luggage for those who are rushing to emergency or disaster zones and also be deployed by those without a technical knowledge.

credit-vodaphonefoundation

It can provide up to five concurrent calls within a radius of 100 metres and also allow text messages to be sent to thousands of people to provide the information needed to help save lives.

Following the trend of products getting smaller as new developments are made, the backpack has shrunk in size. It is almost ten times lighter than Vodafone’s original portable network – which was spread across four suitcases and weighed 100kg.

The smaller network was developed with Vodafone Spain and the foundation’s partners Huawei and Telecoms Sans Frontières.

The case provides a secure 2G GSM network, with the base receiver connecting to a host network over a satellite connection.

However, the original networking equipment offered a much larger operating circle of up to 5km.

It was deployed in the Philippines within 24 hours of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan which displaced more than 1m people. The use of the four-suitcase network allowed 1.4m text messages to be sent and almost 500,000 calls in 29 days.

Andrew Dunnett, director of the Vodafone Foundation, said the instant mini network could significantly benefit the working being done by humanitarian workers who need to quickly be able to communicate messages.

He said: “The Vodafone Foundation Instant Network has enabled thousands of people to reconnect with their loved ones.

“Vodafone Foundation Instant Network Mini is simple and quick to deploy and will be particularly valuable to those humanitarian workers without any other means of communication.”


Featured image courtesy of Thanatorn Chusuwan / Shutterstock.com.

Backpack image and video courtesy of Vodafone Foundation.