In a surprising twist on technology, mobile phone use in developing countries has surpassed that of developed areas, according to a recent World Bank report.
About three-quarters of the world now have easier access to a mobile phone than a bank account, electricity, or clean water, the report said.
Following a 'mobile first' path, the developing world is using mobile apps to help build and educate rather than entertain. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of mobile users in developing countries surpassed those in high-income nations, jumping from 29 per cent to 77 in less-developed areas.
Already, between 80 and 95 per cent of the population of Kenya, Mexico, and Indonesia send text messages.
In the 12 years since the turn of the century, mobile phones have multiplied the world over, growing from less than 1 billion in use, to 6 billion this year – a pace that is unmatched in the history of technology, the World Bank said. It took 128 years to reach 1 billion fixed telephone line users; mobile networks achieved that in two decades.
By about 2015, the World Bank expects the number of mobile subscriptions to actually overtake the world's population. In October 2011, the number of wireless subscriber connections surpassed the US population - 327.6 million versus 315.5 million, according to CTIA.
Now, the task has grown from simply building the necessary technology to harnessing it for good.
"Mobile applications not only empower individual users," the World Bank said, but "they enrich their lifestyles and livelihoods, and boost the economy as a whole."
For more, see the infographic below.