GSMA and UK FCDO Deepen their Commitment to Digital Development Through Renewed £37.3M Funding Partnership

New phase of the strategic partnership to support GSMA Mobile for Development’s focus on digital and gender inclusion, climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience, and digital innovation in low- and middle-income countries.  

26 February 2024, London: A new phase of the partnership between the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the GSMA, which represents the mobile industry worldwide, was announced today at MWC Barcelona. The £37.3 million strategic partnership will accelerate digital innovation for socio-economic and climate impact and contribute to breaking down barriers to digital inclusion across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), impacting the lives of millions of people. 

Across LMICs, mobile phones are the main – and often only – way for more than 3.5 billion people to connect to the internet. Alongside existing services, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling the development of smarter, data-driven solutions to address socio-economic and climate-related challenges. Mobile technology also has the potential to be an enabler of scale for start-ups and innovators as it provides critical infrastructure for payments, communications and content, and allows new and more direct access to markets and customers.   

However, multiple barriers still hold back countries, businesses, and citizens from unlocking the full power of digital technologies. These include persistent usage, coverage and gender gaps; issues with overcoming still-nascent funding ecosystems for digital innovation; challenges with scaling emerging technologies, especially AI, due to the insufficient availability of data and local skills, or a lack of relevant frameworks, particularly around privacy and ethics.  

Mobile for Development (M4D) brings together the mobile ecosystem and the development sector to stimulate digital innovation to deliver sustainable business models with potential for large-scale, socio-economic impact and climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience in LMICs.This is being achieved by unlocking mobile-enabled innovation which delivers on the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as improving people’s access to, and use of, digital and mobile services. Through its work and its partners’, M4D has impacted the lives of 220 million people since its creation in 2008.  

The FCDO and the GSMA’s decade-long partnership have positioned them at the forefront of digital innovation for socio-economic and climate impact and is closely aligned to the FCDO’s strategic priorities, including strengthening alignment with the private sector; encouraging investments to stimulate economic growth; empowering women and girls; tackling global challenges, including climate change and the environment; as well as strengthening the core principles for digital technology to make it “open, responsible, secure and resilient”. This new phase of the partnership will amplify M4D’s current work and impact in accelerating the digital and green transition for all, while specifically supporting emerging technology’s contribution, with a focus on AI. 

Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell said: “Mobile technology has the potential to revolutionise the lives of the poor by helping tackle the effects of climate change, creating jobs and boosting opportunities for women.  

“The Mobile for Development programme has already benefitted more than 100 million people, and the UK’s new announcement aims to up the ambition, reaching 110 million additional people, including 60 million women.  

“Together the worlds of development and mobile tech giants can be a powerful force to unlock opportunities and prosperity, and meet the UN Global Goals.” 

Max Cuvellier, Head of Mobile for Development at the GSMA said: “For more than a decade now, our strategic partnership with the FCDO has enabled us to research, advocate for, support and finance solutions that unlock the power of mobile technology for underserved populations across the globe. The renewal of this partnership is a tremendous opportunity to continue leveraging our respective strengths to accelerate the impact of transformative digital innovation and tackle local socio-economic challenges and climate change. We are extremely thankful for the FCDO’s thought leadership and longstanding collaboration.” 


About 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. Our vision is to unlock the full power of connectivity so that people, industry, and society thrive. Representing mobile operators and organisations across the mobile ecosystem and adjacent industries, the GSMA delivers for its members across three broad pillars: Connectivity for Good, Industry Services and Solutions, and Outreach. This activity includes advancing policy, tackling today’s biggest societal challenges, underpinning the technology and interoperability that make mobile work, and providing the world’s largest platform to convene the mobile ecosystem at the MWC and M360 series of events. 

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