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Mobile Disconnect: Can Mobile Solutions Really Combat Global Poverty?

Presented in partnership by the New America Foundation's Global Assets Project and Open Technology Initiative 

Mobile connectivity is the critical infrastructure of the information age and, as the Arab Spring has exemplified, a solid foundation for a more empowered, connected, and inclusive society. Nearly 6 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions exist worldwide, and mobile penetration has reached 87 percent globally, according to the International Telecommunications Union.

However, mobile growth alone does not automatically translate into social or political progress, and behind the mobile hype is a human and technological reality that is rarely addressed. The case of mobile money and the oft-glamorized example of Kenya’s M-PESA provides a cautionary exemplar of both the potential and the limitations of mobile solutions. At root, we must ask one central question concerning mobile solutions to the growing ICT4D field, one that we ignore at our own peril: what does it really take to combat global poverty?

The panelists discussed the potential offered by mobile connectivity as well as its limitations.

Co-hosted by Global Assets Project Director Jamie Zimmerman and Open Technology Initiative Director Sascha Meinrath

Listen to the full audio of this event:


3:30 p.m. — Welcome & Introduction

Jamie Zimmerman (@GlobalAssetsNAF)
Director, Global Assets Project
New America Foundation

3:45 p.m. — Panel Discussion

Maura O’Neill (@MauraAtUSAID)
Chief Innovation Officer and Senior Counselor to the Administrator
U.S. Agency for International Development

Michael Tarazi (@MichaelTarazi1)
Senior Policy Specialist, CGAP
The World Bank

Kentaro Toyama (@Kentarotoyama)
Researcher, School of Information
University of California, Berkeley

Katrin Verclas (@Katrinskaya)
Co-Founder and Editor

Sascha Meinrath (@Saschameinrath)
Director, Open Technology Initiative
New America Foundation

*Following the event, attendees can continue the conversation at  ICT4Drinks (organized by ICT Works) at Circle Bistro, 1 Washington Circle NW.

Event Time and Location

Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
New America Foundation
1899 L Street NW Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036

Event Materials

Event Photos

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A range of photos from this event are available on Flickr. Click on the icon at left to view or download the photos.