GSMA announces new funding and scope for rebranded Mobile for Development Utilities Programme

£6 million DFID Grant to Support Extension of GSMA Programme to Improve Energy, Water and Sanitation Services in the Developing World

The GSMA and DFID today announced an additional £6 million in funding has been provided by DFID to extend the GSMA’s work to improve energy, water and sanitation, as part of its newly branded Mobile for Development Utilities programme. The programme builds on the early success of the first phase of the programme under the Mobile Enabled Community Services (MECS) banner, through which 13 grants were awarded across 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Developing Asia.

The new grant, which brings DFID’s total programme support to just over £10 million, will extend the timeline and scope of activities to look at the role that mobile technology and infrastructure can play in improving access to basic energy, water and sanitation services in underserved communities from urban to rural settings.

Please find details of the Innovation Fund and how to apply here.

Currently 1.3 billion people, nearly 20 per cent of the world’s population, are without access to energy , 768 million people, 10 per cent of world’s population, do not have access to ‘improved’ water resources and 2.5 billion people, nearly 35 per cent of the world’s population, lack access to improved sanitation. These gaps are due to challenges such as last mile distribution, operation and maintenance capabilities and costs, and payment ability and collection. Furthermore, increasing urbanisation, ageing infrastructure, and lack of investment are resulting in millions of people, who are considered to have access, living with increasingly less reliable services.

The GSMA’s Mobile for Development Utilities programme is focused on looking at how mobile technology can be used to facilitate access to affordable and reliable energy, water and sanitation, which are vital for health and wellbeing, and can also help reduce poverty and drive economic growth. A lack of access to such services often disproportionately impacts the economic opportunities, health and safety of girls and women. M4D Utilities seeks to identify and support innovative mobile-enabled solutions that will improve the lives of many, but especially this group of society.

“With such large numbers of people worldwide lacking access to energy, improved water sources, and sanitation, there is an urgent need to find innovative solutions,” said Zouhair Khaliq, Managing Director, GSMA Mobile for Development. “Our 2013 research found the addressable market for mobile-enabled solutions to be almost 50 per cent larger than previous estimates, driven by increasing mobile coverage in rural areas. The additional funding from DFID and programme expansion will support mobile operators and innovators to develop innovative projects with governments and utilities to reach this addressable market and improve access to these critical resources for underserved communities.”
The additional funding from DFID will support the creation of new, innovative mobile-enabled technologies and business models to improve access to energy, water and sanitation, through additional research, knowledge sharing and innovation grants, which will provide seed funding to the mobile industry, start-ups, utilities, academia and the not-for-profit sector to develop and pilot solutions to overcome the challenges and obstacles to utility service provision.

The UK Minister for International Development, Lynne Featherstone said: “Across the globe more and more people are using mobile phones, giving us new opportunities to help improve people’s lives through technology. The M4D Utilities programme will significantly improve people’s ability to access vital services such as health and giving them better foundations on which to build their future.”

With its technology and significant size and reach, the mobile industry can help address these challenges and provide an unprecedented opportunity for scale in impacting lives. Mobile technology and infrastructure are already being used to improve access to energy and water through product distribution via existing channels, pay-as-you-go financing via mobile payments, and remote activation, monitoring and data collection.

If you wish to be notified when the details of the Innovation Fund are released, and how to apply, please register your interest here.

1. International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2011
3. Ibid

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