ICTD2010 (VII). Mobile Phones and Development

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #87, December 2010


Notes from the Information and Communication Technolgies and Development — ICTD2010, held at the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK, on December 13-16, 2010. More notes on this event: ictd2010.

Paper Session: Mobile Phones and Development

Mobile Divides: Gender, Socioeconomic Status, and Mobile Phone Use in Rwanda
Joshua Blumenstock, Nathan Eagle

Rwanda: 10M people, 165th in GDP, huge growth in mobile phones in the past decade, now with 1.5M users.

Anonymous call detail records (CDR) were complemented with a structured phone survey.

Results show disparities in access. Phone users are very different from “normal” people. in general, they are the “better off” members of society: better educated, older, larger households, wealthy (roughly twice as wealthy in average).

There are also disparities in use: rich and poor use their phones very differently. Rich ones have been using it almost twice longer than poor one, larger average lenghts of call, rich people are more central to the network, more credit used per day, etc.

Men and women spend the same amount of time on phone per day, but women receive more calls, and each call lasts longer. Women are more likely to share their phone. Same with social networks, but women make more calls to family and fewer to friends or make less business-related calls. On the other hand, though daily mobile baking patterns are similar, men send more money during holidays.


Q: Are findings consistent along time? A: There does not seem to be a huge change in major trends and characteristics. Though the research does not have panel data, in general terms the actual findings seem to apply in the past and, very likely, in the nearest future.

(NOTE: Please see Vanessa Frías-Martinez: Telco Industry Research in ICTD: Telefónica R&D, mobiles and development for more research based on CRD).

Research and Reality: Using Mobile Messages to Promote Maternal Health in Rural India

Divya Ramachandran, Vivek Goswami, John Canny

Global maternal mortality is still very high in many African and Asia countries, topping up to 0.5% in India. How can mobile phones and SMS contribute in reducing these figures?

Messages were designed with a persuasive structure to demystify some wrong believes and encourage pregnant women to follow healthy habits. Messages were accompanied with the personal assistance of a health worker.

Results show than, in comparison with a control group, text messages did have a somewhat positive impact in health workers’ work and in pregnant women. Health workers of the same caste as clients were significantly more persuasive (e.g. they succeeded in making their clients take their iron tablets).


[I would personally like to know whether the control group was a group with no supporting material or a group with alternate (e.g. brochures, television, etc.) support material? If there was not supporting material, why go SMS instead of simply paper? Was the impact, thus, the supporting material or technology? Or the intensive participation/involvement of the researchers in the field?]

Information and Communication Technologies and Development (2010)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2010) “ICTD2010 (VII). Mobile Phones and Development” In ICTlogy, #87, December 2010. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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