Download and listen up to Mary Lloyd's podcast on this story. Not far from the Nathan Road electronics stores that sell hi-tech communication gadgets to affluent tourists, businessmen gather in Chungking Mansions to handle the demand for similar devices in the developing world. In a city where there are more mobile phones than users, it is easy to forget there are places where some people have never had access to telecommunications of any kind. This market is being targeted by traders such as Nanakwame Anka, who every month provides 400 Ghanaians with a means of accessing mobile networks. His business thrives on dealing in mobile phones that cost between US$100 and US$200, but Mr Anka believes there is also a substantial market in Ghana for cheaper phones. Although the country's economy is struggling and salaries are low, many Ghanaians aspire to own a mobile phone. 'They want, but they cannot afford,' he said. The telecommunications industry recently realised the same thing - not just about small African nations but about the entire developing world. They are excited about the possibility that the number of users could be doubled if mobile telephony is made cheaper. Ben Soppit of the GSM Association said: 'If we can get the affordability equation right ... then we believe that the market can increase from 100 million to 150 million incremental connections every year.' The association estimates there are 1.5 billion mobile phone users worldwide - half of them in Europe, Asia and North America. With two-thirds of the population in the United States and Japan already using mobile phones, and markets such as South Korea, Hong Kong, Italy and Britain nearing saturation, handset manufacturers and mobile operators need to find new markets if they are to expand. 'Of the total world population, 70 per cent to 80 per cent have some degree of coverage, but only 20 per cent can afford it at the moment,' Mr Soppit said. To sign up more users, mobile communication must become cheaper while still leaving enough profit for operators and handset manufacturers. Mr Anka has struck a balance between affordability and profit. He keeps his business running by allowing the people who buy his phones to pay in manageable instalments. He said that if he was able to import low-cost handsets to Ghana, he could increase his sales even further. By the end of next year, Mr Anka's customers could be discussing the going price of goods using US$25 phones. Having identified the cost of handsets as the biggest impediment to getting more people connected, the GSM Association earlier this year selected Motorola to produce low-cost phones as part of its programme to connect more people in the developing world. Motorola plans to release phones that cost less than US$40 in the coming months and hopes to eventually make handsets for less than US$30. Dutch electronics giant Philips is also looking to drive down the cost of basic mobile phones with its Nexperia platform, which it will make available to handset makers for less than US$5 each. Consisting of all the hardware, software and peripherals needed to make a phone, the system has a black and white screen and polyphonic ring tones and could allow handsets to be made for less than US$15 by 2008. Another way that Philips will keep the cost of the devices down is by producing them at its facilities in China. Motorola will also be using its mainland factories to churn out low-cost phones and is hoping to make 6 million in the first six months of production. Such vast economies of scale will play a huge role in getting cheaper phones to more people. But if cheap phones are needed to foster take-up in the developing world, so too are inexpensive voice packages. Leonard Waverman of the London School of Business said: 'Every company doing business in lower-income parts of the world has to have a different business model.' He pointed to the way the operators in the Philippines charge 30 US cents for text messaging top-ups, which in many other parts of the world would not be worth the inconvenience of the trip to buy a pre-paid scratch card. Mobile communications can be a major part of a person's monthly expenditure in the developing world. Professor Waverman said some people spent up to 20 per cent of their income on bills - not an unreasonable burden when the mobile phone was key to running a business. Market prices are one form of information that can be obtained using a mobile phone. Professor Waverman said fishermen in Indonesia called in to shore and took bids for their catch rather than waiting until they were in the port and were compelled to accept whatever prices they were offered. Similarly, farmers can determine what their produce is worth by making a call or two, rather than taking the word of a middleman. Professor Waverman said: 'Information is very costly to acquire and it is the basis for power and transactions.' Besides promoting growth by creating increased demand for the goods and services needed to maintain networks, making mobile phones more affordable helps development by reducing the cost of doing business - of ordering, getting information and locating services. Because the way that mobile phones are used in poor places is different from how they serve more affluent communities, they may be used in unanticipated ways. 'The mobile phone revolution began 10 to 15 years ago in many countries. So we're just learning what they can be used for,' Professor Waverman said.