Why we like mobile telephony so much

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Quoting Robert Jensen's most recent research, Manoj Kohli, the President and CEO of Bharti Airtel – a telecom company – in a WSJ editorial [subscription required] aptly puts in words the development potential of cell phones:

Mobile phones are making conventional economic transactions more cost- and time efficient, as they often make up for poor infrastructure by substituting for travel. They allow price data to be distributed and enable traders to engage with wider markets.

Mobile connections have opened up new avenues of growth for India's unemployed youth, who have found productive engagement as retailers on the move. Close to 800,000 retailers across India sell mobile-related products.

The macroeconomic impact of all these micro-level developments is huge. According to a recent study by Leonard Waverman of the London Business School, every additional 10 percentage point penetration of mobile phones in a developing country adds an extra 0.44 percentage points of GDP growth. The figure might not appear big, but the cumulative impact is substantial over the long run.

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