UN Offers Cloud-Based Phones for Poor

by admin on August 9, 2011

U.N. Offers Cloud-Based Phones for Poor


Millions of people, primarily in South America and Africa, will receive low-cost mobile phone numbers under the Business Call to Action initiative, which partners with the private sector to help fight poverty, the U.N. said in a release. The mobile phone numbers for these cell phones, as provided by Movirtu Technology, are cloud-based and can be used on any handset.

Movirtu, based in Britain, plans to bring its cloud-based mobile phone numbers to at least 12 markets in Africa and South Asia by early 2013, which would give at least 50 million people access to the technology.

In communities where families and villages often share cell phones, individual mobile phone numbers meant for use on any mobile device will allow users to make and receive calls as well as access valuable banking, employment and agricultural information and services.

“Evidence shows that access to mobile communications is a way of improving lives and expanding the earning potential of 1 billion people living on $1-2 a day,” said Amanda Gardiner, Business Call to Action acting program manager.

The initiative plans to connect those living in poverty to the growing number of services, programs and initiatives that use mobile technology to help alleviate difficult conditions. Phones and texting, for example, now deliver invaluable health care service and information in Third World countries in the form of free emergency helplines and text message health reminders and test results.

A recent study in Kenya, for example, found text reminders boost malaria recovery rates as health care workers struggle treat a disease that requires diligent care.

Phones also offer lifelines to banking and other financial services, such as layaway programs that help the poor invest in valuable farming equipment and e-commerce platforms that allow African consumers to shop for goods and services via text messages that share updated, real-time information.

In countries where cellular service and handset availability outpaces infrastructure development, more mobile-based services will likely continue to spring up to help pull users out of poverty. The U.N. initiative helps ensure as many people as possible will benefit.

The Business Call to Action is a global initiative supported by the U.N. Development Program, the U.N. Global Compact and other organizations and governments, according to officials. The main beneficiaries of the program will be women in rural communities in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, Movirtu and Business Call to Action said.

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