Technology news round-up (Issue 92)
March 30 2007
by Briefing staff
Greenpeace releases a study accusing the electronic industry of contamination of rivers and wells, a study commissioned by Nokia shows the power of the mobile phone in rural India, and Vodafone join with Citigroup to offer a revolutionary money transfer system.
High-tech industry may be contaminating water
Greenpeace released a report on February 8, which claims that a number of leading companies in the electronic industry, and their suppliers, are contaminating rivers and underground wells with a number of hazardous chemicals. Cutting Edge Contamination: A study on environmental pollution during the manufacture of electronic products used analysis of samples from industrial estates in China, Mexico, the Philippines and Thailand.
Dr. Kevin Brigden, from the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, said: “Our findings of contamination arising during the manufacturing stage make it clear that only when we factor in the complete life cycle will the full environmental costs of electronic devices begin to emerge.”
Contact – Dr. Kevin Brigden, Greenpeace Research Laboratories, 07968 844906; Zeina al-Hajj, Greenpeace International, 0031 653 128 904
Nokia communication revolutionising rural India
A new study has revealed that mobile communication is revolutionising economic and social life in rural India. The report, by the Center for Knowledge Societies and commissioned by Nokia, has found the expansion has also resulted in a wave of entrepreneurs in the regions and created increased access to social services. With 6m new mobile phone subscriptions in India each month, three quarters of India’s population will be covered by a mobile network by the end of 2008. The study examined the way in which this growth in mobile phone use can bridge the growing economic and social divide between rural and urban areas.
It was researched using detailed ethnography and participant observation among communities living in three rural areas and one urban area in the country. The report identified seven service areas that could be transformed by rural communities’ use of mobile communications, including transport, micro-commerce, finance and healthcare.
Access in emerging markets to be broadened
Access and usage of information and communications technology in developing communities around the world is to be broadened by a joint scheme between Intel and the United States Agency for International Development.
A memorandum of understanding has been signed, which will focus the project on three particular areas, namely, increasing educational use of ICT, supporting its usage in SMEs, and enabling last-mile internet connectivity. Both partners hope to accelerate social and economic development in emerging markets through the scheme. Intel’s involvement with USAID is part of the company’s overall approach to global access to uncompromised technology, known as the Intel World Ahead Program.
Mobile money transfer
Vodafone and Citigroup are jointly launching a Vodafone-branded mobile-based international money transfer service that will enable people to send money home in a cost-effective, secure and transparent way.
The scheme is built on the success of Vodafone’s recent pilot project – the M-PESA mobile money transfer service by Safaricom, Vodafone’s affiliate in Kenya.
UK Vodafone customers will be able send money to Kenya on a trial basis, but both partners hope to launch the product commercially, focusing on Eastern European and Asian markets. The system will benefit developing countries where migrant remittance is a crucial source of income.
The World Bank estimated that the transfers have a total annual worldwide value of $268bn, and for some recipient countries, remittances can account for as much as a third of their GDP.