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GSMA Unveils New ‘Mobile for Development’ Initiatives

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peter oluka

At the 2017 Mobile 360 – Africa, the GSMA announced several developments in its Mobile for Development programme, all of which support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Connected Woman initiative announced new commitments by five mobile network operators (MNOs) to reduce the gender gap in mobile internet or mobile money services, while Sudatel Group became the latest signatory to the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter.

Additionally, the GSMA’s Utilities programme launched the ‘Mobile for Energy Access’ initiative, the Connected Society Programme announced that Tanzanian MNOs have implemented the first tri-party rural roaming project in Africa, and the mAgri programme released a report outlining the significant impact of mAgri services on smallholder farmers.

“The rapidly growing adoption of mobile and digital technology in Africa has unlocked new opportunities across the continent, providing a platform for innovation, creating new companies and services, and providing employment opportunities,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “The GSMA Mobile For Development team work closely with innovative companies to deliver a connected region where mobile is positively impacting society and helping to meet the Sustainable Development Goals – this truly is the digital age for Africa.”

Connected Women Increases Industry Commitments to Reduce Gender Gap
The GSMA Connected Women programme today announced five new signatories to the Connected Women Commitment Initiative. EconetLeo, Orange Cote d’Ivoire, Safaricom Ltd. Kenya, Telenor Pakistan and  Vodacom Tanzania join with other GSMA operator members in committing to connect millions more women in low- and middle-income countries by 2020.

Through the Connected Women Initiative, mobile operator partners have delivered life-enhancing services to more than 17 million women in developing countries, supporting SDG 5 (Gender Equality).

New Humanitarian Connectivity Charter Signatory, Disaster Response Research

Sudatel Group, with operations in Guinea Conakry, Mauritania, Senegal and Sudan, has become the latest signatory to the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter initiative.

Contributing to SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), the Charter is designed to improve preparedness in disasters, reduce loss of life, and aid recovery through access to communication and information for those affected by crisis. With today’s addition of Sudatel, 112 mobile operators in 77 countries have committed to the Charter to date.

Additionally the Disaster Response programme, which manages the Charter, has produced a report that explores the socio-economic impact of connectivity for refugees in Nyarugusu, one of three large refugee camps in the Kigoma region of Tanzania.

The report provides robust evidence of the current use, value and impact of connectivity, and addresses the barriers and challenges that refugees face in accessing and using mobile devices.

GSMA Launches Mobile for Energy Access Initiative
The GSMA Utilities programme launched the ‘Mobile for Energy Access’ initiative to support SDG 7 (Universal Energy Access). It is estimated that there are currently 772 million people that do not have access to energy but are covered by mobile networks.

The new initiative will promote the crucial role of mobile in enabling clean and affordable energy solutions, and will help mobile operators to engage more effectively with the energy sector by providing feasibility studies and advisory services, sharing insights and toolkits, and facilitating partnerships.

Tanzanian Operators Launch First Tri-Party Rural Roaming Project in Africa
Three major mobile operators in Tanzania – Airtel, Tigo and Vodacom – have successfully implemented the first three-way rural roaming project in Africa.

This innovative partnership, supported by the Ministry of Works – Transport and Communications and the Universal Communications Service Access Fund, and facilitated by the GSMA, has so far extended mobile broadband internet coverage to over 70,000 rural users in Tanzania.

The project was supported by Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia, who built solar-powered, energy-efficient sites to enhance the customer experience in remote locations while at the same time optimizing cost.

GSMA Publishes Findings on Scalable Mobile Solutions for Agriculture
The GSMA issued a report outlining the results of work with mobile operators Airtel Malawi, Dialog Sri Lanka, Grameenphone Bangladesh, Ooredoo Myanmar, Telenor Pakistan and Vodafone Ghana to launch data-driven services for farmers. Since 2014, the mAgri programme, under the mNutrition Initiative funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), has worked with these MNOs to develop and launch services that now reach more than five million registered users worldwide.

Globally, the mAgri programme supports services that have allowed smallholder farmers to improve crop yields and income contributing to SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and SDG 1 (End Poverty).

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