With South Asia expected to continue its boom in mobile usage in the coming years, mBillionth was created to follow key trends in the South Asian mobile industry and honor its vital players. The much-anticipated mBillionth conference wrapped in India last week, and curator Osama Manzar answered FastCompany.com’s questions about the key takeaways.
Why, for example, is a platform like mBillionth necessary when other entities such as MobileActive, LirneAsia, iBoP Asia, and Telecentre.org are already active in the mobile space in Asia? “This space is so large that many players can co-exist,” Manzar says. “The Digital Empowerment Foundation, the organisation behind the mBillionth Award, has a proven record of credibility with which it makes governments involved in person and in action with all its initiatives, to create a multi-stakeholder eco-system, which you may find absent in other initiatives.”
What key research findings and statistics are coming out of mBillionth? “There is a great deal of proactiveness in developing content and application around business, commerce, and banking, which seriously indicates that financial inclusion is the big trend. There is still an opportunity left for the federal government to show how mobile could be the future of large scale integration in some of its national projects touching the masses, like NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme) and RTI (Right to Information). Education, however, is one of the weak areas as far as the use of mobiles in providing education services.”
And finally, how do South Asian nations differ in mobile usage? “Sri Lanka leads the South Asia pack of countries in mobile penetration in terms of percentage,” Manzar says, “followed by Pakistan and India. India, however, may be better in innovation because of the necessity it has to struggle with, with more than 20 languages, hundreds of different cultures, diverse regions, religion, and extremely diverse economic conditions.”