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March 2, 2012

'All I need is my phone'

Nokia Connects explores how mobile technology and Nokia Life are helping empower people around the world.


“It wasn’t just Facebook and Twitter that helped change things. We should be crediting Nokia.”

These are the words of Wael Ghonim, Google employee and Egyptian national, speaking about the way mobile phones and mobile technology have empowered ordinary people both in his country and around the world.

While social media and networking sites are changing the way people understand and interact with each other, in many developing countries the simple act of having a mobile phone can be life-changing. And when that phone is internet enabled, then the possibilities seem endless.

More than half of the world’s population has access to a handset, with over 6 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. Even though only a small fraction of these handsets are internet activated, this is changing fast as mobile devices become smarter and more connected, and mobile internet services become cheaper and more accessible.

Before the introduction of mobile handsets, people living in rural areas in places such as Sub-Saharan Africa, or rural India or China, did not have access to telephones. Making a simple phone call would often involve hours or days travelling to the nearest big town and making an appointment with an operator to use a public phone. Supply simply did not meet demand. As one aid worker based in Sierra Leone during the 1980s put it: “I had to take two days off in order to make a phone call home.”

Now, everything has changed.

A new scheme pioneered by the UN Secretary-General bears testament to this change. It aims to harness today’s world of digital data and real-time analytics in order to “gain a better understanding of changes in human well-being.” By monitoring the things people are doing and saying online in developing countries, UN Global Pulse can find out what is happening in the world in real time, and so coordinate humanitarian and aid efforts accordingly.

Nokia Life services are part of this changing world, bringing relevant and up-to-date information to people in developing countries. The new and enhanced Nokia Life , available on the new Asha 202, 203 and 302 handsets, comes with new services like Life Skills and Parenting Advice, with a youthful look and richer user experience as well as with new social elements even on SMS medium.

“Nokia Life is the first and the largest mobile life improvement information services suite in the emerging market designed to address information gaps so that consumers in emerging societies can be better informed and improve their livelihood and living standards.” Nokia

The spread of mobile internet has not only helped people take control of their lives and enabled aid workers and humanitarian organisations identify and locate people in need, it has also helped people keep in touch with the wider world. Nearly everyone has a friend or relative living in a bigger town, who in turn has another friend or relative living in another town, or another city, or indeed another country. In this way, personal networks have grown broader and more global at the same time as they have grown stronger; and they have placed each individual at the centre of their own community.

This is what Wael Ghonim was talking about when he said that Nokia helped “empower” people: mobile phones and mobile internet have given a voice to people who did not have one, and given them sovereignty over their own community and their own lives. Just think what the future will look like when if Nokia achieves its aim of connecting the next billion by bringing affordable mobile internet to everyone!

via katypang

What do you think about the way mobile technology is empowering people around the world? Let us know below or @Nokia_Connects!