Rob Katz

Africa: The Impact of Mobile Phones II

?The ultimate aim of policymakers must be to create the conditions for private enterprise to make poverty history in Africa?

Vodafone is at it again–first, with their Social Impact of Mobile report; now, CEO Arun Sarin has penned an op-ed in today’s Financial Times (subscription required). As ?make poverty history? rings out across the UK and G8 in advance of next week’s summit, big business remains strangely quiet. Not Vodafone. Sarin’s op-ed urges policymakers to learn from African telecom’s success–principally, that demand-driven investments in communications technology catalyze economic growth.For the private sector to invest in Africa, Sarin continues, they must be confident of the political, regulatory, and business environments–so he asks donor governments to step up support for institutions and frameworks that will support, not scare, private investors. He goes on to note the importance of entrepreneurs:

?A thriving business sector, led by capable and highly motivated African entrepreneurs, will lie at the heart of spurring economic growth and reducing poverty.?

It’s about time a big-name CEO came out to discuss the link between development and enterprise, and Sarin does a fantastic job in his op-ed. At, we’ve been documenting how enabling regulatory environments and vibrant entrepreneurship can spur economic growth. Kudos to Sarin for speaking out on some of the same ideas. Coincidentally, he also spoke at the “Eradicating Poverty Through Profit” conference last year. Check out the video of his speech here.