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GSMA Pledges £5.4 for Mobile Innovation

by Daniel Sabiiti
5:24 pm

Goodluck, GSMA’s head of Sub-Saharan Africa

Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) has pledged £5.4 millions (Rwf 6.1billion) of funding for innovations in rural connectivity and mobile-enabled humanitarian solutions.

GSMA for development made the announcement on Tuesday through Yasmina McCarty, Head of Mobile for Development alongside the ongoing GSMA ‘Mobile 360’ – Africa conference taking place from 17-19 July 2018 in Kigali.

“This funding will enable innovators to address global crisis like disasters through mobile based humanitarian applications for example in creating early warning systems aid disbursement and identity services for people affected by crisis,” McCarty told a press briefing on Tuesday.

The fund will support start-ups willing to work with mobile operators and open to post-revenue start-ups using mobile to solve local challenges in Asia-Pacific and Africa.

With 15 additions since 2017, the mobile for development funding portfolio now comprises 24 start-ups based in 15 markets around Africa and Asia Pacific.

Previous funding from GSMA was in the last two phases focused on mobile for development (M4D) Utilities Innovation Fund, which is expected to increase use of mobile based solutions such as mobile money transfers which now leads Africa economic growth and development.

The M4D’s cover more sectors, including health, insurance, and logisitics, and illustrate a wider range of areas in which local small and medium enterprises are using mobile innovation to help solve problems.

Collectively they tackle thirteen of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals introduced by the United Nations and embraced by the mobile industry as a whole.

Last year, GMA provided £10.7 million of funding for mobile-enabled innovation over the past 2 years, supporting water, sanitation, energy, the sharing economy and disaster response.

The mobile technologies and services accounted for 7.1% of GDP across Sub-Saharan Africa last year, a contribution that amounted to $110 billion of economic value added, according to the new 2018 sub Saharan Africa mobile economy report released on Tuesday in Kigali.

The report, the sixth of its kind on Africa estimates that more than half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa will be subscribed to a mobile service by 2025.

It further calculates that the mobile ecosystem will add more than $150 billion in value to Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy by 2022, equivalent to almost 8% of regional GDP.

According to Kenechi Okeleke, the Lead Analyst GSMA intelligence, the east African region will surpass the rest of Africa looking at the uptake of mobile money wallet transactions, which accounts to at least 90 percent of international money transfers to Rwanda.

For many citizens across the region, particularly those living in rural areas, a mobile phone is not just a communication device but also the primary channel for getting online and a vital tool for improving their lives.

“More needs to be done to extend connectivity to the remaining unconnected and underserved populations across Sub-Sahara Africa, but this will require a focus on long-term industry sustainability that can only be achieved through investment-friendly policies and supportive regulatory frameworks,” said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSMA.