Mobile phone innovation is coming from Africa

Another story I’m working on for Hopebuilding wiki:

MIT researcher Dr. Nathan Eagle says the future of the mobile phone lies in developing countries, not in the developed world, and specifically in Africa, where mobile phone use is growing by 65% annually. He is living in Kenya, where he is involved with a variety of amazing projects, including:

“EPROM, part of the Program for Developmental Entrepreneurship aims to foster mobile phone-related research and entrepreneurship. Key activities include:

  • the development of new applications for mobile phone users worldwide
  • academic research using mobile phones
  • the creation of a widely applicable mobile phone programming curriculum

Today’s mobile phones are designed to meet Western needs. Subscribers in developing countries, however, now represent the majority of mobile phone users worldwide. We believe the adoption of new technologies and services within this vast, emerging market will drive innovation and help shape the future of the mobile phone.” EPROM is teaching mobile phone programming within computer science departments in universities across East Africa.

Arguing that there will always be tasks that humans can do better than computers, Dr. Eagle developed a way that allows billions of mobile phone subscribers to earn small amounts of money by doing short text-based tasks using his txteagle system, which distributes and collates this work via SMS.