Mobile industry delivers on SDGs, connects five billion people

SOURCE: GSMA

Ahead of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets, the mobile industry has shown commitment towards helping the globe meet them.

The Global System for Mobile Telecommunications Association (GSMA), informed that the mobile sector has connected two-thirds of the global population, meaning that some 5.1 billion are mobile subscribers, and almost half (3.5 billion) are using mobile Internet services. The Guardian checks showed that in Nigeria as as August, operators in the sector have connected 259.6 million out of which 176 million are active telephone users. There are also 122 million Internet users.

The GSMA in its Mobile Industry Impact Report highlighted the role of mobile technology and connectivity is playing in meeting the targets of the SDGs and transforming the lives of billions around the world. The report however, warned that progress must be accelerated if the industry is to fully maximise its impact ahead of the 2030 deadline for delivering the Goals.

Director General of the GSMA, Mats Granryd, said the report presented a wealth of evidence to demonstrate how mobile is delivering the SDGs by reducing poverty, improving healthcare and education, and driving sustainable economic growth.

“This has been achieved by extending mobile broadband networks to all corners of the world, resulting in almost a billion new people connecting to the mobile internet since 2015. But to maximise our impact over the next decade, we need to ensure that half of the population not yet on the internet is connected affordably, safely and equipped with critical digital skills.”

Since 2016, when the mobile industry became one of the first sectors in the world to commit to the SDGs, around 400 million new people have started using mobile, and more than 860 million have started accessing mobile internet services. The introduction of 5G services is also expected to enable new technologies and innovation around Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and big data that will further accelerate goals such as greater inclusion and equality across both developed and developing countries.

The study reports that in 2018, the mobile industry contributed $3.9 trillion (4.6 per cent) to global GDP, driven by direct impact and increased productivity across other sectors. Almost two billion subscribers use their mobile phone to purchase goods and services (+160 million compared to 2017).

Currently, 1.3 billion subscribers access mobile health services (+230 million compared to 2017); 1.4 billion subscribers use mobile to improve their education or that of their children (+140 million compared to 2017).

“Mobile money has helped reduce the financial exclusion gap in low- and middle-income countries, with 866 million registered mobile money accounts at the end of 2018 (+20% compared to 2017).

140 million additional people in rural areas connected to the mobile internet for the first time. 80 per cent of adult women in low- and middle-income countries now own a mobile phone, which can help them feel safer and more connected – an increase of 250 million over the past five years,” the report noted.

The GSMA’s Mobile Industry Impact Report used a proprietary methodology to assign an ‘impact score’ to measure the industry’s contribution to each of the 17 Goals. Applying this method, the result of the study showed the industry’s most significant impact continues to be on SDG #9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure). This progress is a result of mobile broadband being built out to cover 90 per cent of the world’s population and connecting more than 5 billion people worldwide. According to the scores, significant progress is reported in 2018 on SDG #4: Quality Education and SDG #6: Clean Water and Sanitation.

The study also highlighted the mobile industry’s role in addressing environmental and climate change challenges (SDG #13, Climate Action). This progress is a result of providing the connectivity for digital solutions that reduce energy use, reduce travel and transport, or otherwise reduce GHG emissions. The industry itself is also collaborating on a GSMA-led initiative around climate impact disclosures and emissions target setting.

As part of its #BetterFuture campaign and commitment to the SDGs, the GSMA said is working closely with the industry, policymakers, and the international development community to help connect the unconnected. By doing so, new opportunities to leverage and scale mobile-enabled solutions improve people’s quality of life. This work is being achieved through several ongoing GSMA programmes and initiatives, including Mobile for Development, which identifies opportunities and delivers innovations with socio-economic impact in financial services, health, agriculture, digital identity, energy, water, sanitation, disaster resilience and gender equality; Big Data for Social Good; and We Care.

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