The Economist (subscription) ran a story in its current edition making the case that cell phones–even more than the personal computer–may be key to reducing poverty in the third world. From enabling farmers to check prices in different markets, to making it easier for people to find work, to making it easier to transfer funds, wireless telephony is a boon. “[M]obile phones are, in short,” says The Economist, “a classic example of technology that helps people help themselves.”
Yet, high costs are impeding the growth of wireless in many areas. And among the culprits are third-world governments themselves. From Turkey to Uganda to Bangladesh and even Aghanistan, governments have imposed high taxes or other costs on wireless services. As the article notes, manufacturers (seeing a market here) are working to reduce their costs “Now governments must do their part, too.” Worth reading.