GSMA has launched it Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion. Set up to increase mobile internet adoption and usage among those who have mobile internet coverage but are not using it, the fund is open for applications for countries in Africa and Asia.
Supporting the fund are the UK Department for International Development (DFID), BMZ the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany, and GSMA and its members.
“Today, we understand the value of being connected like never before. Mobile operators have invested almost US$1 trillion in network infrastructure over the past five years, bringing mobile internet coverage to 91 per cent of the world’s population. Despite this, 3.3 billion people are not using mobile internet services,” said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer of GSMA.
These people tend to belong to the most marginalised members of society – disproportionately rural, female and illiterate. Women are 20 per cent less likely to use mobile internet than men in low- and middle-income countries.
“Now is the time to find innovative ways to solve this usage gap for the digitally excluded – regardless of who they are or where they are. The Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion will drive partnerships to develop new and innovative ways of increasing use of the mobile internet so that more citizens can fully participate in society and the economy,” said Giusti.
The Innovation Fund aims to address this usage gap to ensure underserved citizens can use the mobile internet. As mobile networks have become the primary way of accessing the internet globally, the ability to access and use mobile services is critical to driving economic growth and creating opportunities for citizens and businesses to thrive.
The fund will support start-ups or small to medium enterprises with innovative new products, services or business models which can address key barriers to mobile internet adoption and use, driving digital inclusion for those currently digitally excluded.