Mobile Money: How Cell Phones Can Fight Hunger in the Sahel
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Some five billion people worldwide were using mobile phones in 2010, according to the International Telecommunication Union, with the strongest growth taking place in developing countries. Africa is the fastest growing mobile market. In the past six years, the industry estimates that the number of subscribers has grown nearly 20 percent each year. At this rate, we can expect to see some 735 million cell phone users in Africa by the end of 2012.
The surge in mobile technology in Africa not only creates an opportunity for mobile phone companies — it also gives communities a powerful tool to connect with their kin who have migrated and provides them with a vital lifeline in times of crisis.
Mobile phone technology can also make a difference in the ballooning food crisis in the Sahel, a vast continental belt of arid and semi-arid land stretching across Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. A drought, which led to poor harvest and rising food prices, has pushed 18 million people to the brink of crisis. One million children under five years old are now at risk of severe acute malnutrition.