Until recently, mobile and communications services were confined to a few, mostly urban, areas. That left people living in rural areas cut off. When we were in Madagascar, working on this project, we saw many rural communities in dire need of essential infrastructure and services. People in some villages live far from any road, or rely on dirt tracks that turn to impassable mud ways in the rainy season, without access to electricity, hospitals, or banks.
So, in this environment, access to mobile communications cannot be considered a luxury anymore—it’s a vital service that overcomes physical barriers and infrastructure gaps. With mobile service, people can contact family members in case of an emergency, call for medical help, and transfer money via their cell phones. Farmers—a large majority of the country population works in agriculture, and especially the poorest—can use the internet to check market prices for their produce, or get information on fertilizers. Schools with connectivity can reach the world, giving students access to information ranging from Victor Hugo’s novels to Fermat’s last theorem. Phones can be vital tools for health and well-being.