The astonishing growth of mobile puts the industry in a unique position to enhance the lives of underserved people in emerging markets. More than 90 per cent of the one billion additional mobile subscribers forecast by 2020 will come from developing markets. Mobile has already become a powerful platform for digital and financial inclusion, as mobile networks are often the most widespread and reliable infrastructure in these markets, where huge swathes of the population are underserved by basic services.
For example, two billion people worldwide lack access to formal financial services, 1.8 billion lack access to improved sanitation, 643 million don’t have access to electricity and 262 million rely on drinking water that hasn’t been protected from outside contamination, yet the majority of these people live within areas that are covered by mobile networks.
By partnering with the mobile industry, governments and philanthropic communities, GSMA Mobile for Development (M4D) works to trial, develop and scale mobile solutions that can help address these gaps. To date, M4D has worked in more than 50 countries and reached 26 million individuals.
The M4D strategy focuses on the three key areas of connectivity, financial services and digital identity. It also continues to work to demonstrate the positive socio-economic impact mobile can have in areas such as healthcare provision, improving access to energy and water, and reducing the gender gap in the use of mobile services. Operators, other ecosystem players, governments and regulators all have a role to play in addressing these challenges. These efforts and more are detailed over the following pages.