Increasingly, mobile phones are becoming cheaper and thus more widespread around the world and owned and used by the poor. SMS is most likely the most widely used electronic means of communication in the world, with an estimated 2.5 billion active users.
Percentage of people covered by mobile services, by country in the MEE Region:
% population covered Mobile phone service
Country by mobile service per 100 people
Armenia: 88% 63
Azerbaijan 94% 53
Egypt 98% 40
Georgia 96% 59
Iraq 72% n/a
Jordan 99% 23
Kazakhstan 94% 80
Kyrgyzstan 90% 41
Tajikistan 4% 1
West Band/Gaza 95% n/a
Yemen 68% 3
Why use mobile phone SMS in development?
1. Very cost effective for communication (data and information).
2. Fast because SMS is sent in real time and immediately.
3. High exposure in that, generally, 90% of all SMS messages are opened.
4. Potential for large reach depending on how many use mobile phones.
5. Personal in the SMS can be personalized.
6. Interactive in that receives can respond.
If you would like to read more, below are links to sites that provide more information about mobile phones in development work.
Livelihoods and employment (Souktel http://www.souktel.org/ and http://mobileactive.org/improving-livelihoods-and-incomes-mobile-phones)
Farming advice (http://mobileactive.org/farming-advice-cell-phone)
Health (RapidSMS http://www.rapidsms.org/about/about/)
Nutrition surveillance (http://mobileactive.org/case-studies/nutritional-surveillance-rapidsms-malawi)
Pre-natal child care (http://mobileactive.org/prenatal-care-through-sms)
Emergency Preparedness & Emergency Warning (FloodSMS http://www.netsquared.org/projects/floodsms-–-early-detection-and-warning-catastrophic-flooding-sms)
Community mobilization (FrontlineSMS http://www.frontlinesms.com/)
Literacy & community empowerment (http://mobileactive.org/how-tostan-using-mobiles-literacy-and-community-empowerment)Cash transfer (http://mobileactive.org/concerns-cash-aid-mobile-kenya-evaluation