Disruptive innovation to connect the unconnected

The digital inclusion space in developing world markets is full of creativity and ambition. The GSMA recently launched a Digital Inclusion Innovation Portal, which is a unique platform to discover and track technological and strategic innovation within mobile internet connectivity, affordability and accessibility that are taking place across these markets.

The portal intends to inspire actors across the mobile industry and beyond to explore new routes and opportunities for partnerships around digital inclusion initiatives, from gaining insights of other organisations’ projects. Visitors are offered a rounded introduction to each innovation through up to date information, visuals and videos, as well as analysis of the solution’s potential impact and replicability in emerging markets.

The portal tracks Innovation in Network Coverage that show potential for improving the economics and efficiency of connectivity in rural areas, specifically looking into initiatives within Last Mile Connectivity, Backhaul and Power.

Endaga’s CCN1 – a satellite “network-in-a-box”, is one of the innovative solutions featured, designed to bring voice and data services to remote and previously uncovered areas through a community owned and driven model. The portal also offer insight into VNL’s wireless mobile and broadband communication system of low-powered base-stations, which is optimised for providing affordable connectivity to networks of rural and remote villages. Google X’ Project Loon – high-altitude connectivity balloons that transmit connectivity directly to users’ LTE devices, is also among the solutions featured, as well as Ballard’s methanol fuel cell technology that has been an important innovation for remote mobile service delivery, providing cost-efficient and reliable power supply for telecom sites.

The online tool also features innovation in Consumer Affordability & Use, presenting promising approaches for making smartphones and mobile data services more affordable and for enhancing local relevant content generation and improving consumers’ digital skills.

One of the initiatives showcased is the Pamoja partnership of Google Android and Orange. They jointly launched an affordable digital communication package in several markets across Orange’s MEA footprint, offering a high-quality smartphone at the low-price point of USD 40, bundled with data and preloaded with popular content apps. Another example among the handset initiatives is Mobisol’s affordable smartphone loan scheme in Rwanda, which is offered to customers based on an alternative credit assessment model. Mobisol partnered with MTN Rwanda and TECNO Mobile for this pilot programme. Other initiatives featured include Curious Learning’s global literacy project that provides an ecosystem to create, distribute and improve free mobile learning software for children, and Google’s and Tata Trusts’ Internet Saathi programme, which provides digital skills training for women who live in rural villages in India via a peer-to-peer training approach.

The selection of innovations featured on the portal will grow over time, and will be kept up to date with new initiatives and refreshed content every few months in order to capture the latest trends of promising industry approaches.

Is your organisation running projects or launching products to enhance digital inclusion? We are interested in hearing from you, please get in touch at connectedsociety@gsma.com.


This initiative is currently funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and supported by the GSMA and its members.

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