Here’s another image from my recent Bangladesh trip that I wanted to share. This photo is part of the “Faces of Bangladesh” photoset I mentioned yesterday, though I didn’t include it in yesterday’s post.
Consider this: In 2009, even dock workers in Bangladesh own mobile phones equipped with cameras.
I was exploring Sadarghat, Dhaka’s riverfront area, a place crowded with passenger ferries and cargo ships. I was taking pictures and talking to folks when I noticed a cluster of people gathered behind me. I turned around to find that these guys (pictured above) were snapping cell phone photos of me.
In Bangladesh — one of the world’s poorest countries — nearly half of the population lives on less than 1 US dollar per day. But mobile phone penetration has grown rapidly in recent years.
I was able to purchase, for example, a SIM card and plenty of minutes from a Grameenphone (Bangladesh mobile operator) counter at the airport in Dhaka. SIM cards are available for purchase throughout Asia, of course, but Bangladesh sees few tourists. And throughout the country, many people sported cell phones; I was frequently asked to pose for cell phone photos, and I even a noticed a few people recording cell phone videos of me.
I also found the mobile reception throughout the country to be excellent; I didn’t suffer a single dropped call in eight days, as I might have if I were traveling in the US. (On the down side, I was supposed to receive MMS support via Grameenphone — a service not often provided with pre-paid plans — but that support didn’t materialize.)
For more on cell phone usage in Bangladesh, you can find an article from the IDA (International Development Association) on the World Bank site.
And the Wikipedia page for Grameenphone founder Iqbal Quadir contains more info on technology and development in Bangladesh.