It is time to admit that when it comes to global development, mobile phones will not be able to achive it on their own, says Hibah Hussain of the New America Foundation.
Promotion of social change and economic growth cannot dismiss established communications networks like radio, “the mass media that reaches the widest audience in the world”. Above all, says Hussain, it is radio, more than mobile phones, that reaches best the people you should think about when talking about development: poor people who, especially if they live in flood prone areas, always carry cheap radio sets along. Mobile phones are the next step, changing radio “passive” listeners into active citizens who provide data and engage in conversations, but not the first one.
The practical consequences are that more hybrid radio/mobile projects are needed, together with simpler, affordable licensing and regulation for community radio stations.