Mobile networks are often the most widespread and reliable infrastructure in emerging markets where large sections of the population are often underserved by basic services. The reach of mobile networks puts the industry in a unique position to act as an enabler in connecting these populations to key infrastructure, as well as health and financial services.
For example, two billion people worldwide lack access to formal financial services, 1.8 billion lack access to improved sanitation, 643 million don’t have access to electricity and 262 million rely on drinking water that hasn’t been protected from outside contamination, yet the majority of these people live within areas that are covered by mobile networks.
Mobile for Development (M4D) is a dedicated global team within the GSMA which brings together our mobile operator members, tech innovators, the development community and governments, to prove the power of mobile in emerging markets. It identifies opportunities and delivers innovations in financial services, health, agriculture, digital identity, energy, water, sanitation, disaster resilience and gender equality.
For example, our work on closing the digital gender gap has provided life-enhancing services to more than 17 million women. Financial exclusion has been greatly reduced over the past decade, as there are now 556 million mobile money accounts present in 92 countries. Our mobile enabled energy solutions have reached more than four million people, enabling families to provide safe lighting at home for children to study, keep their business open longer and generate more income. And, our mHealth programme has reached over one million families, resulting in better nutritional outcomes for pregnant women and children under the age of five.
M4D’s work seeks to test the feasibility of new ideas, support the deployment of those with the most potential and scale projects that have proven their worth. This section details how these efforts are translated into real projects with meaningful socio-economic impact.