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Wednesday, 03 October 2012 13:31

Bill Clinton: Phones Mean Freedom

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clintontimesBILL CLINTON, Founding Chairman of Clinton's Global Initiative and Former President of United States gave an interview on TIMES (October 1, 2012) about the transition from technology to equality as a case for optimism and ways for a better world .
President Clinton says that our world is more interdependent than ever.

"There are three big challenges with our interdependent world: inequality, instability and unsustainability. The fact that half the world’s people live on less than $2 a day and a billion people on less than $1 a day is stark evidence of inequality, which is increasing in many places. We’re ‘feeling the effects of instability not only in the global economic slowdown but also in the violence, popular disruptions' and political conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. And the way we produce and use energy is unsustainable, changing our climate in ways that cast a shadow over our children’s future."
President Clinton believed that progress changes consciousness, and when you change people’s consciousness, then their awareness of what is possible changes as well—a virtuous circle. "That’s the reason I try to bring people together every year for the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)".

Haiti is a good example, as he mentioned, for technology fosters equality with relatively cheap and mundane devices which they do the most good.

"In Haiti, one of the poorest places on the planet, phones have revolutionized the average person’s access to financial opportunity. Until very recently, banks in Haiti didn’t make loans. Since about 20% of the country’s income comes from remittances from Haitians working in the U.S, Canada, France and around the Caribbean, the banks concentrated on converting the dollars, francs and Canadian dollars to Haitian currency. While that kept the banks in business, it didn’t help the ordinary Haitian or change the fact that roughly 70% of the country’s people were living on less than $2 a day before the 2010 earthquake. As a consequence, only 10% of Haitians have a bank account. But around 80% of Haitian households have access to a cell phone. "
Chairman of Digicel, Irish businessman Denis O’Brien, worked with a Canadian bank, Scotiabank, to provide a service that lets Haitians withdraw cash and make deposits and person-to-person transfers using their mobile phones with- out a bank account. By the end of 2011, this service had processed over 6 million transactions.  
President Clinton continue with Africa, in which only 4% of households in Africa have Internet access, but more than 50% have cell phones according to Clinton. Because counterfeit medications are a huge problem in sub-Saharan Africa, a CGI member created a company called Sproxil, which lets people in Africa (and now India) use cell phones to text a code on any medication they have to see if   it’s counterfeit. Ericsson with the U.N., big investment firm Delta Partners and an NGO called Refugees United - is helping families that have become separated because of conflict  reunite using cell phones.
Smart phones help restart the lives of many individuals, but they also help millions of individuals help restart the lives of others. We’ve seen how technological advances have democratized charitable giving as never before, allowing people to make a difference even if they don’t have much time or money to give.

The 2004 South Asian tsunami was the first natural disaster in which huge numbers of people who were poor or of modest means gave a little of their money because they could use global communication networks to do it.

"Americans gave $1.92 billion toward tsunami relief, with a median contribution of $50. When the earthquake hit Haiti, Americans also gave a billion dollars, but that time the median was even lower, because by then cell-phone technology had enabled people to give as little as $5 or $10 simply by texting their favored charity." B.C.

Read 9303 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 13:42

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