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Jun032015

Emerging trends enriching lives in developing regions

There are some notable trends emerging in developing regions around the world that we find to be very interesting. Residents in these areas are making use of available technology to help enrich their lives and improve their standard of living.

One of the most notable trends is the use of scalable solar panels, as is explored in this recent Re/code article. While these areas are seeing a major uptake in the use of mobile phones and Wi-Fi, one thing that is missing is the ability to power these technological advancements. In a short period of time, there has been an explosion in the use of solar panels in these regions, so much so that Re/code article author Steven Sinofsky, a Board Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, believes solar power, combined with large-scale batteries, will become the energy grid in developing markets, perhaps even in the near future.

Sinofsky explains:

Solar will prove enormously useful and beneficial and require effectively zero-dollar investments in infrastructure to dramatically improve lives.

Image Source: Re/codeWith China investing heavily in solar technology, they are creating more choice and lowering prices for these products. This, paired with the abundance of trade between China and Africa, is creating an upsurge in the use of this technology in developing regions. This is just the beginning of this notable trend. As more battery-operated appliances hit the marketplace and the cost of solar panels continue to trend downward, the use of solar power will only increase.

Another emerging trend, explored in this recent article in The Guardian, is the use of eLearning in these areas. Virtual learning is opening up educational opportunities for residents that weren't available before. According to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates:

Cheaper smartphones and tablets, advances in software and better network coverage will revolutionize the way children in developing countries learn over the next 15 years.

Bakary Diallo, rector of The African Virtual University (AVU), an intergovernmental organization that has used virtual learning to train 43,000 students since its creation in 1997, says these online classes can address some of the bigger challenges facing the continent:

In Africa, the need for education is so important. Poverty, violence, extremism – I think the root of these problems is lack of education.

In 2014, AVU announced 29 new distance learning centres for students to take part in and said it is considering plans to make lectures accessible on mobile phones.

As technology continues to reach developing areas around the world, residents are taking advantage and are making a strong effort to improve their living standards.

What other trends are you seeing emerge in these regions?

-- Jia Yan Toh

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