In the United States, mobile phones are mostly a kind of cool gadget. The real revolution was the invention of the telephone in the first place. But in much of the developed world, wireline phone networks never got properly built out and proliferation of mobile phones represents the first mass penetration of this aspect of modernity. Gallup shows us that in sub-Saharan Africa mobile phone usage varies enormously from place to place with, not surprisingly, phones being more widespread in the places that are doing better:
What’s more, as smartphone costs continue to fall that sector is likely to be the main driver of internet access in poor countries.