Global Mobile News: North Korean Mobiles, Betavine, Lagos to London

- The mobile industry is growing in North Korea, of all places, where Egypt-based carrier Orascom has a joint venture with the government.  Orascom reports an eight-fold increase in profits from the first quarter of the year to the second. The country of 23 million presently has only about 48,000 mobile subscribers, but plans to drop prices could greatly expand the user base.  The North Korean government banned mobile phone service in April, 2004, to prevent word leaking about a deadly explosion at a train station, but the government now seems committed to letting mobiles spread.  As we saw in Iran earlier this year, a populous empowered with mobile phones can create major headaches for authoritarian regimes.

- The people of Bangalore hosted the Mobile Tech 4 Social Change conference last week-- sounded like a great event.  Notes from the sessions will be coming here, and MobileActive was tweeting up a storm, if you'd like to look back at their logs.  The next MT4SC conference will be in South Africa at the end of October-- if you're in the neighborhood, be sure to drop by!

- Vodacom, South Africa's biggest mobile carrier, is introducing Betavine, an online R&D lab & community developed by Vodafone (the majority stakeholder in Vodacom).  Betavine will allow collaboration among developers, entrepreneurs and innovators to build widgets and mobile applications for use in South Africa.  This kind of collaboration and community building will be hugely important in creating applications that are relevant to the increasingly diverse user base of mobile phones.

- As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Nigerian IT firm GlobalCom was building a big fibre-optic line to connect Lagos to London.  Well, the connection is complete, and Accra will soon be looped in to the network as well.

- Craigslist has come to Nairobi!

- Google News has come to Senegal!