GSMA launches the Mobile Connectivity Index

June 24, 2016 | Connected Society | Global | Yasmina McCarty

The GSMA Connected Society Programme has launched an important new online tool that measures the strength of the enabling environment for connecting offline populations to the mobile internet in over 130 markets – accounting for more than 95 per cent of the world’s population. The GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index measures each country on the four key enablers for driving mobile internet adoption: infrastructure; affordability; consumer readiness; and content. As an output of these measurements, it groups countries in clusters according to the strength of the enabling environment for mobile connectivity allowing comparisons and contrasts to be drawn between groups of nations.

We’ve designed the tool specifically to support the efforts of the mobile industry and the wider international community to deliver on the ambition of universal access to the internet.

As things currently stand, more than 4 billion people remain offline and excluded from the opportunities for development that the internet offers. The majority of the unconnected live in developing world markets and it is here that we see the greatest opportunity for socio-economic impact. It’s also our hope that the rich data and insights provided by the Index will be of benefit to the industry as it strives towards even more ambitious goals than bringing everyone online, notably its commitment to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

On this point, Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA noted “Connectivity to the mobile internet is an important foundation stone upon which the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals depend for their delivery, providing a platform for reducing poverty and improving healthcare, education, commerce, information sharing, employment and innovation. The launch of the GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index will therefore provide valuable insights that will inform projects designed to support the ambition of universal access to the internet.”
 

Key Findings from the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index

Primarily, the tool seeks to answer two questions:

a) What factors need to be in place to create the correct conditions for supply and demand to flourish?

b) How can countries at the beginning of the journey towards universal access benefit from the experience of those further along?
 

With those two questions in mind, key findings generated by the Mobile Connectivity Index have provided the following insights.
 
There are no shortcuts to creating a strong enabling environment for mobile internet connectivity: it is not possible to succeed merely by pushing on one or two levers. The most successful nations score strongly across all enablers.

Sub-Saharan Africa requires the greatest levels of support: countries from this region account for 16 of the 20 lowest Index scores. More than 700 million people across this region, or 76% of the population, are not making use of the mobile internet.

Development efforts need to be rebalanced towards demand-side issues: Contrary to prevailing opinion, expanding network coverage is only a part of the challenge. More work needs to be done to address network performance, affordability, digital skills and locally relevant content.

The development community needs better data: The Mobile Connectivity Index has been built using best-in-class source data, and, where possible, has incorporated primary research to augment this. However, in some cases it has proven difficult to develop indicators that precisely measure the enablers for all countries in the Index.

Focus on clusters, not scores: Given the need for better data, consider countries in the context of their clusters. A country in any given part of the Index will share multiple characteristics with other countries around it, which yield valuable insights.
 

The tool can be found at www.mobileconnectivityindex.com
 

GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index Launch Report:
A new report co-authored by the GSMA’s Connected Society team and GSMA Intelligence provides further information on the aims, scope and methodology of Mobile Connectivity Index.

Read the complete report here.

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