Jean Lievens: Jeremy Rifkin on Leapfrog Technologies

05 Energy, Advanced Cyber/IO, Mobile
Jean Lievens
Jean Lievens

How Developing Nations Can Leapfrog Developed Countries with the Sharing Economy

Electricity is now coming to remote areas in Africa, which never before had access to a centralized power grid. Not surprisingly, the introduction of cell phones has helped precipitate the development of a nascent Third Industrial Revolution infrastructure. Virtually overnight, millions of Africa’s rural households have scraped together enough money — from selling an animal or surplus crops — to purchase a cell phone. The phones are used as much for carrying on commercial activity as for personal communications. In rural areas, far removed from urban banking facilities, people are increasingly relying on cell phones to facilitate small money transfers. The problem is that without access to electricity, cell phone users often have to travel on foot to get to a town with electricity in order to recharge their phones. A single solar panel affixed on the tin roof of a rural hut would provide enough electricity to not only charge the cell phone but also power electric lights.

This essay is the third in a four-part series on the theme, “The Third Industrial Revolution.” An introduction by Arianna Huffington is available here. Part one is available here. Part two is here. Stay tuned for the next chapters and responses from leading global figures and technologists.