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    Mobile Technology Helps African Exporters


    International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2007, © International Trade Centre

    © ITC/ M. Labbe Issa Bagayoko, a mango exporter from Bamako, Mali, checks market prices on the latest Trade at Hand quote.

    Mobile phone use in Africa is growing fast. As computers and the Internet revolutionized business in the West, so mobile technology can help solve business problems for African exporters.

    ITC's "Trade at Hand" initiative uses mobile phones to send an SMS (short message service) every day to exporters in developing economies with the day's product prices on international markets. It also transmits business opportunities, contacts and market news. In this way, exporters have access to targeted information in their sector, enabling them to react to demand, plan export volumes and negotiate fair prices. Trade at Hand was launched with fruit and vegetable exporters in two landlocked sub-Saharan African countries, Burkina Faso and Mali, in 2006.

    Award nomination

    The programme was nominated for an award for "Best Use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development" by the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) Association, which represents more than 700 mobile phone operators in over 200 countries. The Association's members serve more than 2 billion customers - more than 82% of the world's mobile phone users.

    Trade at Hand is funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Netherlands' Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries. The initiative is run through ITC's network of local trade support institutions.

    For more information about Trade at Hand, contacteNetworks@intracen.org . For information about the awards, seehttp://www.gsmawards.com