Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.

Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:

Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view

whats new at ieet

Desiderata for a Model of Human Values

Should You Sign Up for Cryonics?

Blue Origin Defeats SpaceX In Landing Reusable Rocket

The Emperor Has No Clothes: Socrates Deconstructs Singularity University

The Future of News? Virtual Reality

Future Fiction: To an Antique Land

ieet books

The Brain: The Story of You
David Eagleman


instamatic on 'The Revenge of the Pagans: Ovid as prophet of the posthuman' (Nov 30, 2015)

Giulio Prisco on 'The Emperor Has No Clothes: Socrates Deconstructs Singularity University' (Nov 30, 2015)

dobermanmac on 'The Emperor Has No Clothes: Socrates Deconstructs Singularity University' (Nov 30, 2015)

balom on 'Obfuscation: protect privacy by destroying the Web!' (Nov 29, 2015)

instamatic on 'Christians Should Support Scientists and Technologists' (Nov 28, 2015)

spud100 on 'Viewpoints on Modern Cosmism' (Nov 28, 2015)

spud100 on 'Christians Should Support Scientists and Technologists' (Nov 28, 2015)

Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List


Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month

Why it matters that you realize you’re in a computer simulation
Nov 14, 2015
(68194) Hits
(14) Comments

The Future Business of Body Shops
Nov 15, 2015
(8122) Hits
(0) Comments

Artificial Intelligence is Already Here—Artificial Consciousness is What Eludes Us - See more
Nov 19, 2015
(4325) Hits
(1) Comments

Is Anyone Competent to Regulate Artificial Intelligence?
Nov 21, 2015
(4155) Hits
(1) Comments

IEET > Location > Africa > Life > Enablement > Vision > Technoprogressivism > Contributors > Lee-Roy Chetty

Print Email permalink (0) Comments (3908) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg

Making Information Mobile

Lee-Roy Chetty
By Lee-Roy Chetty
Ethical Technology

Posted: Oct 22, 2012

Among the plethora of technological developments within the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, mobile phones have had the most pronounced impact in developing countries.

Mobile phone adoption has been driven primarily by improved accessibility and affordability to consumers.  This has been made possible through the expansion of mobile networks that are cheaper to deploy than fiber-optic cable infrastructure.

The capacity or bandwidth available on mobile networks also continues to increase as the technology evolves, enabling more data-intensive services to be delivered through sophisticated devices such as smartphones and tablets.

However, the most common device in developing countries is still the basic mobile phone.

As prices continue to decline, data-enabled devices such as feature phones, smartphones, and tablet computers are expected to become more accessible to more people. These devices include an operating system, which means they have computing capabilities and can carry software applications, referred to as mobile applications.

In the past year tablet computers have started to revolutionize various entertainment and knowledge-based industries such as music, videos, books, newspapers, and magazines. Combining the operational potential of a computer, the communications capabilities of a phone, and the versatility of a notepad, companies have already started selling no-frills tablets for less than the cost of some mobile phones.

These data-enabled devices, along with their increasing affordability, can have a range of implications for the development of mobile applications. These include ease of use, richer multimedia that can transform agricultural extension services and the ability to access relevant information on demand in local languages.

While cost may still be a barrier for smallholder farmers, community knowledge workers, and local entrepreneurs, users are increasingly able to afford these mobile devices, incorporating them in their work to collect and disseminate information. Devices targeted for this market increasingly use offline technology such as USB media to overcome connectivity issues.

Mobile and remote wireless sensors and identification technologies also have an important role to play in gathering data and information relevant to agricultural production, such as temperature, soil composition, and water levels.

Increasingly, specialized mobile services targeted to specific agricultural functions are becoming more available. The basic functions of a mobile phone—sending and receiving voice calls and text messages—are invaluable in increasing efficiency in smallholder agriculture by improving the flow of information along and between various stakeholders in the value chain from producer to processor to wholesaler to retailer to consumer.

Furthermore, mobile phones also enable smallholder farmers to close the feedback loop by sending information to markets, not just consuming information from markets.

Mobile phones, although owned and used by individuals, can nevertheless have an important impact in linking markets and key stages of the value chain. A recent study of farmers conducted in Bangladesh, China, India, and Vietnam found that 80 percent of farmers in these countries owned a mobile phone and used them to connect with agents and traders to estimate market demand and the selling.

More than 50 percent of these farmers would make arrangements for sale over the phone. Improved understanding of real-time market dynamics can help farmers deal with external demand, such as switching to high-demand but riskier (perishable) products. Risky products include crops that are easily ruined if the rainy season arrives too early, for example.

The growing sophistication and knowledge of value chains also means that farmers can work directly with larger intermediaries, capturing more of the product’s value. Farmers are able to expand their networks and establish contacts directly with other buyers in other areas. Aside from the overall impact of mobile phones on marketing and market linkages, certain mobile applications can help aggregate information between buyers and sellers.

As information becomes more accessible through the use of mobile devices for stakeholders throughout the agriculture value chain, people are gradually moving toward more efficient ways of producing agricultural products, increasing incomes, and capturing more value by linking fragmented markets. Key benefits include increases in productivity and income for farmers and efficiency improvements in aggregating and transporting products.

Although elements of the mobile agriculture platform are emerging in developing countries, the full potential has yet to be realized. The mobile services cited here are simply tools, and without the proper supporting pillars such as those described above, the key challenges that hamper their sustainability will be difficult to overcome.

In the future, governments will need to examine their role in creating an enabling environment for innovators seeking ways to meet the needs of this information-intensive sector. Specific ICT strategies for the agriculture sector would help guide both the public and private sector in creating this enabling environment. These policies should take into account the need for new business models in specific country contexts and facilitate inputs such as the supporting infrastructure (broadband services) and the IT industry (IT skills).

Technologists, governments, NGOs, private businesses, and donor agencies are just starting to work together to leverage mobile technologies for greater inclusion of rural and poor communities into their spheres of activity.

Lee-Roy Chetty holds a masters degree in media studies from the University of Cape Town and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A two-time recipient of the National Research Fund Scholarship, he is currently completing his PhD at UCT and an economics degree with Unisa.
Print Email permalink (0) Comments (3909) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: John Horgan & George Johnson: The evolution of altruism

Previous entry: The Children Of Columbus: The Multinationals And Their Courtiers


RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

East Coast Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @     phone: 860-428-1837

West Coast Contact: Managing Director, Hank Pellissier
425 Moraga Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611
Email: hank @