For Uganda’s poor, a cellular connection

In a place where cell phones might outnumber light bulbs, several nonprofits have begun thinking that the best way to reach the poor and get them much-needed information is through their phones, CNET reports. In Uganda, only 10 percent of the population has electricity, and most people don’t have access to the latest information on disease outbreaks, weather forecasts, or soccer championships. But that soon could change. More than a third of Uganda’s population, about 10 million people, own a cell phone, and many more have access to these phones through family members and neighbors. The Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit that helps the world’s poor with financial services and technology solutions, has partnered with Google, telecommunications provider MTN Uganda, and several local nonprofits to develop and design mobile applications that let cell-phone users get information via SMS text queries. The goal is to improve the lives and livelihoods for Uganda’s poor. "Anyone with a phone can benefit from these services," says David Edelstein, director of Grameen’s Information and Communication Technology Innovation center–but they are "tailored to the needs of poor people."

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