Just a decade ago it seemed we were stuck with landlines. State-owned telephone companies were largely entrenched, sclerotic organizations that provided poor, delayed, or simply unavailable service —even in some rich European countries, and nearly universally in poor countries.
These maps (with data from 2001, 2004, and 2008) show how cell phones have quickly bypassed the dysfunctional landline companies and emerged as a triumph of bottom-up entrepreneurial success.
The measure is cell phone subscribers per 100 population, with darker shades of blue indicating movement from 0-20 to 20-30 to 30-40 to above 40 (above 40 is the dark blue shade that is most evident in all the graphs).
Note the darker blue color now encroaching on all sides of the African continent. This gives us hope that the dynamism of the bottom from entrepreneurs can overcome sclerosis at the top.
Data source: World Development Indicators