Free «Mobile/Cell Phone Technology Revolution Can Encourage Economic and Social Growth and Should Be Used to Reduce Poverty» Essay Sample

Introduction

For years, technological development has been credited with the improved quality of life for people in the developed world, leaving the developing world poor due to inaccessibility of such technologies. However, the first two decades of the 21st century have proved otherwise. In the last 15 years, the developing world has increasingly become a major beneficiary of technology, especially mobile telephony. Many developing nations, especially in areas such as Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and Eastern Europe are currently enjoying technological development due to rapid distribution of mobile phones, especially in the ease of access of mobile telephones and efficient communication (Karanasios & Burgess, 2008). In addition to the increased ability to access effective communication, the populations in these areas are increasingly gaining the ability to access the Internet, participate in social media, express their concerns, and remain updated about the issues affecting them (OSILAC, 2007). More important, the recent innovations have made it possible for the mobile phone holders in the developing world to access banking services, especially in Africa and some Asian countries, where mobile money and mobile banking are becoming a major factor for economic and social development. Arguably, there is a technological revolution in the developing world due to mobile telephony, which is rapidly favoring economic growth in these countries. Noteworthy, this economic factor seems to be triggering and enhancing the industrial revolution, steering economic development and reduction of poverty in the developing world (Karanasios & Burgess, 2008). Nevertheless, the central problem is the slow reaction of the relevant international communities and international monetary and financial control systems. For instance, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations are generally slow in reacting to encourage and promote these technologies. These organizations should be the first to encourage a rapid spread, development and adoption of the mobile technology and the associated technologies. They must work to establish a favorable environment for enhancing a rapid economic revolution in the developing world.

On the other hand, some moral issues should be considered when encouraging the technological revolution in the developing world. For instance, the growing market for mobile telephones and associated technologies in the developing world is increasingly encouraging economic exploitation of these nations by the more industrialized countries, especially China, India, Taiwan, South Korea, the United States and some member states of the European Union. In particular, the developing world lacks the required technology, knowledge, innovations and industries for developing these technologies. Thus, there is an overreliance on imported mobile telephones and associated technologies. The developing world will not only become a dumping site for the technologies, but also fail to achieve the desired industrialization, especially in manufacturing.

Therefore, the key goal should be to encourage economic development in the developing world by taking the advantage of the technological revolution in order to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life in these countries while also considering the ethical and moral aspects of these actions.

With this in mind, the purpose of this paper is to develop a comprehensive analysis of the importance of technological development, especially in terms of the mobile telephony, in encouraging economic and social development in the developing world. The paper will focus on the economic and social importance of the mobile revolution in the developing world, paying special attention to the consequentialist ethics of the revolution.

Definitions and Historical Context

The Importance of Mobile Technology within the Context of ICT4D

The Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) is a concept established in 1980s to encourage technology as a tool for social and economic development. Specifically, it refers to the notion that information and communication technologies (ICT) have the potential to improve socioeconomic, international, and human rights development (Unwin, 2009). The idea was developed based on the theory that information and communication fosters and sustains positive development in any society (Unwin, 2009). The aim of the idea and the principle behind it is to bridge the digital and economic divides between the developing and developed worlds by fostering equitable access to modern and most appropriate technologies.

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What Is Mobile Telephone and Mobile Revolution?

Mobile technology forms an important part of the ICT4D in the modern world (Unwin, 2009). In the recent years, innovation and development of mobile computing has led to the proliferation of various technological products such as mobile phones, tablets, and smartphones. These products are low-priced as compared to PC computers and laptops, which makes it possible for people in the developing world to have an access to these technologies (Unwin, 2009). Moreover, they are equipped with basic communication hardware such as data connection, WiFi, USB sticks, and voice communication. As such, the users in the developing world are able to access the Internet via mobile and wireless networks without a need for securing expensive broadband or landline, fiber optic, or cable connections and infrastructure (Unwin, 2009).

Kantian and Utilitarian Ethics

Developed by the renowned German philosopher Immanuel Kant, the Kantian ethics is a deontological ethical theory based on the notion that the only good thing (or action) is a good will (Jost & Wuerth, 2011). In this context, an action can be good if and only its maxim (or the principle behind the action) is the duty to abide to the good morals or the moral law (Jost & Wuerth, 2011).

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Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are credited with the foundation of the utilitarianism theory, a major form of normative ethics. This concept states that an action is good if it tends to enhance or promote human happiness. Therefore, an action is not good if it tends to reverse or reduce human happiness (Bredeson, 2011). According to this theory, the type of happiness considered is not just that of the person or group taking the particular action, but also that of any other person or group of people affected by the action. It is a direct antagonist of the ethics of egoism, because it states that an individual should not pursue his or her own interest (Bentham, 2009). Therefore, utilitarianism ethics shows that an apparently wrong action with good ends (by promoting happiness) is better than an apparently good action that tends to reverse human happiness (Bredeson, 2011).

Arguments for Encouraging Mobile Revolution in the Developing World

The Revolution Empowers People in the Developing World and Should Be Enhanced

As a part of initiatives under ICT4D, the use of mobile telephony has become a major success in improving the quality of life for millions of people living in the developing world. Rapid distribution of mobile phones and associated technologies has allowed populations in low-income countries to easily access socially and economically useful as well as interactive information. In particular, people living in poor rural areas and informal urban settlements in the developing world are the major beneficiaries of the initiative. For instance, studies indicate that more than 850 million people in India subscribed for mobile phones by 2012, with more than 290 million living in rural areas (Bhavnani et al., 2008). The increase in the number of people subscribing for mobile telephones is higher in rural areas than in urban centers in India as well as other developing nations, especially in Africa. According to Masiero (2013), the availability of affordable mobile phones has increased in Africa. The study shows that the availability is a major factor that has empowered populations to communicate, access information on the Internet, and share information regarding to social and economic activities. Recent studies indicate that mobile phone technology in the developing world is rapidly enhancing knowledge and innovation, thus improving the economy and the quality of life for the poor people (Masiero, 2013).

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In Kantian ethics, developing and enhancing mobile telephones as a part of ICT4D in the developing world amounts to an action that is intended to enhance the quality of life for millions of people. Thus, it has some “good will”, although it has some few negative impacts. In addition, in utilitarianism ethics, the provision of affordable mobile phones to millions of people in the developing world as part of ICT4D amounts to an action, the consequences of which would be improving the quality of life and thus promoting happiness. Therefore, affordable mobile phones to improve ICT4D should be one of the major initiatives for reducing poverty.

Mobile Telephone Revolution Develops Opportunities for Economic Growth in the Developing World

Rapid distribution of mobile telephones in the developing world has created other opportunities apart from access to information. For instance, in Africa and some parts of Asia, mobile banking has become a major economic sector. In Kenya, for example, the success of M-Pesa mobile banking is attributable to easy access to mobile phones (Masiero, 2013). The sector has contributed to an increase in the number of people accessing banking services, including instant sending and receiving money, instant payment services, and cashless transactions. Overall, the studies are indicating that the technology is enhancing economic revolution in African countries, improving their economies and increasing the number of people joining the middle-income class (Unwin, 2009). In particular, it is difficult to introduce the initiatives that the developed world used several decades ago to achieve growth in the developing world, which means that mobile technology is a feature that should be used in a unique manner in the developing world to achieve economic development. Sectors like m-agriculture, m-health and m-credit have resulted from these technologies, enhancing the quality of life for millions of people across various nations in the developing world (Unwin, 2009).

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In both Kantian and utilitarian ethics, the sole purpose of introducing and enhancing mobile banking and related services in the developing world is to make more people access banking services, reduce the cost and time of transactions, and reduce the need and cost of travelling, which improves the quality of life for millions of people. As such, the moral worth of this action is to achieve a good ending to a large population.

Mobile Technology Revolution in the Developing World Is Rapidly Encouraging Entrepreneurship in the Rural and Informal Urban Areas

Since the number of people gaining access to affordable mobile phones in the developing world is rapidly increasing, various studies have shown that the use of these technologies have a large impact on the lives of rural people. Specifically, these studies have shown that the revolution is encouraging entrepreneurship in areas that were initially considered remote and nonviable for business activities. According to studies conducted in Africa and Asia, the use of mobile phones has a positive impact on the rural life. For instance, it enhances job search and entrepreneurship by reducing the cost of communication and carrying out business activities. In some areas, it was found that the mobile technology makes it easy for people to start new businesses that have been rare or impossible to initiate. For example, in Pakistan, minority groups such as women have been enabled to start small businesses such as hairdressing with ease (Bello-Bravo et al., 2011). These groups provide services without the need for huge capital or assets because clients only need to contact the service providers via mobile phones and decide the convenient locations where the services can be provided. Secondly, mobile phones allow easy access of market information such as prices, market and trade opportunities and arbitrage. This prepares people for better and effective business transactions, which could also be done via mobile banking. Moreover, mobile phones are increasingly reducing market inefficiencies that have been a common factor in the developing world (Bello-Bravo et al., 2011). As such, a balance in the supply market is achieved, with market intermediaries finding it hard to conceal market information and exploit rural people.

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In Kantian ethics, it is the duty of the technology developers to ensure that the maxim, or the principle behind encouraging people to use the mobile technology, is meant for the good morals. By encouraging and improving entrepreneurship in the developing world, millions of rural dwellers will find it easy to participate in beneficial activities that build their economies, improving their lives and countries. Similarly, utilitarian ethics can consider the action of encouraging mobile phone revolution in the developing world as an initiative to pursue happiness for all people, because the quality of life is likely to be enhanced. Therefore, the revolution should be encouraged and used for the common good of the millions of people in these areas.

Counterarguments

Despite the huge potential for social and economic development associated with the mobile phone revolution in the developing world, it is worth noting that the major beneficiaries of the phenomenon are the technology developers. In fact, more than 90% of the mobile technologies that enter the developing markets, especially in Africa and Asia, come from the global economies, with China, Europe, the US, Japan, Russia and to an extent, South Korea, being the major players. In fact, India is the only developing nation with few industries specializing in manufacturing of mobile phones. Africa, despite being the largest mobile market in the modern world, has no such industries. In particular, China is one of the biggest providers of these technologies in Africa and other developing nations. The standards of the gadgets sold in Africa from China are sometimes questionable. In fact, the developing nations are turning out to be a dumping zone for old fashion and low standard mobile phones, especially because people with low-income emphasize on price rather than the quality of technologies. China is a major beneficiary of this phenomenon, exploiting millions of mobile users in the developing world.

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Secondly, studies have shown that rural dwellers in countries like Ethiopia fail to benefit from the mobile revolution, especially in providing and accessing information on markets. It was shown that traditions and customs make people reluctant to communicate with unknown individuals on matters concerning money and health, which limits the desired benefits of mobile phone revolution as a part of ICT4D in the developing world (Bello-Bravo et al., 2011).

In deontological ethics, it is evident that the intentions of the major economic players in the mobile revolution era are not to benefit the poor people but to gain benefits from the economic revolution in the developing nations. In particular, developed nations are increasingly entering the robust African market by using technologies which are in high demand. As the African population becomes more educated and the economies grow by an average of more than 5% per annum, the developing world cannot be left behind in benefitting from the new phenomenon. With sophisticated and highly developed technologies and knowledge, the developed nations are taking the advantage of the situation in Africa and other developing nations to benefit economically (Bello-Bravo et al., 2011). Therefore, although the African population is gaining benefits socially and economically, there is some degree of harm, which means that the action is not meant for the absolute benefit of the poor people. Therefore, the moral worth of the actions of the developed nations is questionable.

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Rebuttal to Counterarguments

Although the developed world is taking advantage of the desire for mobile phones in the developing world to benefit economically, the largest beneficiary are the poor people, because they gain the capacity to realize economic and social development that has long been absent. In addition, the idea is to improve trade between the developed and the developing nations, which improves the quality of life of the developing nations. Moreover, the developing nations can set their own standards for imported technologies in order to ensure that the developed trade partners do not exploit their populations. In fact, the mobile telephone revolution in the developing world is encouraging trade between them and the developed nations, which is increasingly empowering the poor people and reducing overreliance on foreign aids.

Conclusion

Despite few problems, such as excessive reliance on foreign-made technologies, the rapid technological revolution in the developing world is a major phenomenon that is encouraging economic and social development in these areas (Karanasios & Burgess, 2008). The largest beneficiary of the revolution are the people in the developing world, which means that it will ensure that they realize their potentials for development and reduce the age-old tradition of relying on aid from the developed world. Thus, it is important to encourage economic development by taking the advantage of the technological revolution in the developing world. In this way, it will be easy to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life in the developing world while also considering the ethical and moral worth of these actions.

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