As I was working on our presentation, there is something that I was not able to answer. I did some research on google but could not find any satisfactory evidence. Basically, I wanted to answer the question of the motivation behind acquiring a cellphone. This technology has experienced phenomenal adoption rate in many poor countries. My question is the following: how do people value the cellphone? Is it because it enables them to maintain and develop relationship with others (social value) or because it enables them to transact with others (economic value)? Obtaining an answer to this question is certainly important as it will help us better design our system.
In its current form, it is planned that the free press project will have a payment component which will enable users of the platform to defray the costs associated to sending an SMS to be published (equipment, communications and opportunity). But if it happens that people are more interested in having their voices heard at the international level and building a bridge with the international community, then we may have to reconsider the design of this component. We have struggled quite a lot while trying to design a solution that will enable micro-payment in countries with no trivial access to electronic payment facilities. But as one of the professor suggested, we may end up just forwarding the payment to reputable and active NGOs if our user believe that it is where the value reside. We do not have the benefit of granular survey that would have helped us better answer this question but that is also the beauty of the project. Once deployed, people may react in a total different way, and success will only come from the level at which we adapt to these new emerging needs. The risk is that we spend a lot of time and effort building a Rolls when in fact people are happy with a mini Tata!