GSMA Mobile for Development Support to FCDO Country Offices

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) Technology and Innovation Unit has a longstanding strategic partnership with the GSMA (the global association of the mobile industry) via its Mobile for Development (M4D) programme.

As part of this engagement, the GSMA is available to work with FCDO country posts to build capacity and knowledge on how mobile and digital technologies can help unlock positive social, economic or environmental impact, at scale, and in a commercially sustainable manner.

M4D has set up a Central Insights Unit (CIU) with a mission is to deliver and/or facilitate such country engagements leveraging M4D’s expertise and networks. Please find CIU resources here.

Expertise available

GSMA M4D – thanks to its unique positioning at the intersection of the mobile ecosystem and the development sector – has expertise in a wide range of topics, including but not limited to:

Offer to FCDO country posts

M4D’s CIU provides support to FCDO country posts in the following areas:

Research and insights

  • Research reports: country-level, regional-level, thematic reports
  • Tailor-made briefings (e.g. policy/literature review)

Scopes of work and methodologies are jointly developed and tailored to FCDO country post needs. The CIU also engages with country posts to support the dissemination of findings via webinars, events, blogs.

Technical assistance: Ad-hoc, agile support for FCDO country posts including:

  • Strategic advice via virtual and in-person workshops
  • Strategic advice via expert calls

Examples of recent engagements

Examples of recent engagements with the FCDO teams and country posts through the CIU include:

Types of engagements

Based on an assessment of requirements, we can propose specific engagement or activities:

 Type of ProjectDescriptionLength of engagement
Technical assistanceStrategic advice via F2F workshops, online webinars, expert calls Up to 3 months
Research and insightsBespoke briefing (e.g. policy review, literature review) Up to 3 months
Research and insightsCountry-level research report 6-7 months
Research and insightsRegional-level research report7-8 months
Research and insightsThematic research report 6-9 months

Commitment required

Throughout the engagement, we require commitment from FCDO country posts to support:

  1. Scoping out the project (e.g. identification of key challenges and research questions)
  2. Defining the methodology
  3. Facilitating introductions with relevant stakeholders, where needed/possible
  4. Providing feedback and input at different stages (e.g. inception, mid-way, final reviews)

Assessment criteria

Upon receipt of requests for support from country posts, the GSMA and FCDO will evaluate them based on the following criteria:

  • Available bandwidth from GSMA programmes
  • Practical feasibility of the engagement
  • GSMA’s relevance on the topic – Does GSMA have existing experience/expertise in the topic that can help both deliver high quality and credibility engagement? For research and insights projects, such as country-level, regional-level and thematic reports (see above “Types of Engagement”).
  • Project impact – How will the work be used by the team, programmes or partners (e.g., programme design, policy work, or influencing)?
  • Opportunity to collaborate – Are there existing voices in the international development community or within broader GSMA working on the topic? Who are or potentially would be willing to collaborate on the project?

Calling for collaboration on frontier technologies

Frontier technologies are disruptive, often still emerging tech innovations, that can enable more intelligent, data driven solutions for large scale challenges.

Frontier technologies include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), big data, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality, virtual reality, drones, and robotics.

We are interested in identifying opportunities, as well as operational and business models, to leverage frontier technologies for digital innovation in low- and middle-income countries.

Timeframes for submission

If you are interested in commissioning a research project to M4D CIU, please complete the “Expression of Interest” below. Project kick-offs are on a first come, first served basis.

Application dates:


FCDO – Research and Evidence Division
CGrace Cramer
Technology and Innovation Theme Leader
United Kingdom
Luisa Odell
Technology and Innovation Adviser, Strategic Partnerships, United Kingdom.
GSMA Mobile for Development
Daniele Tricarico
Senior Director, Central Insights Unit & M&E
United Kingdom
Regina Kiriutina
Operations Manager, Central Insights Unit & M&E
United Kingdom

About the GSMA

The GSMA is a global organisation unifying the mobile ecosystem to discover, develop and deliver innovation foundational to positive business environments and societal change. The GSMA’s vision is to unlock the full power of connectivity so that people, industry, and society thrive. It represents mobile operators and organisations across the mobile ecosystem and adjacent industries.

The GSMA Mobile for Development (M4D) team drives innovation in digital technology to reduce inequalities in our world. Singularly positioned at the intersection of the mobile ecosystem and the development sector, we stimulate digital innovation to deliver both sustainable business and large-scale socio-economic impact for the underserved. Our unique research and insights platform advances digital innovations and implementations that empower underserved populations to build a better future. Our in-market expertise informs partnerships between the mobile industry, tech innovators, governments and the development sector. And our unparalleled convening power motivates conversations and inspires action. To date, we have impacted the lives of over 126 million people.

Annex: Expression of interest

Please fill in the form below. If there are parts of the form in which you do not have all the information, please provide as much as you can for the team to make an evaluation. 

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