Mobile technology alleviates poverty, says GSMA

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Mobile technology is crucial to uplifting many people from poverty, GSMA has disclosed.

Quoting a World Bank report, the global association for telecommunication firms stated that mobile broadband was responsible for uplifting two million people out of extreme poverty in Nigeria (2010 – 2016).

It added that it reduced the number share of people in Nigeria in extreme poverty by 1.5 percentage points.

It revealed this in its ‘2023 Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals,’ report.

The association noted that it was in line with academic and empirical evidence that show that the adoption of mobile technology had resulted in significant economic, social, and environmental gains.

Commenting on some of the impacts of mobile technology, it said, “Over the last five years, the economic value added generated by mobile technologies and services has increased by $500bn, reaching $5.2tn of economic value added (five per cent of global GDP) in 2022.

 “The mobile industry has increased global employment by around two million in the last five years; in 2022, it supported 28 million jobs. Mobile ownership combined with internet connectivity is associated with an improvement in people’s lives and wellbeing.”

GSMA highlighted that mobile’s impact on Sustainable Development Goals had grown significantly since 2015.

It noted that in 2015, which marked the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the mobile industry’s average SDG impact score was 33.

Since then, the mobile industry had made strong progress in increasing its impact on the SDGs, it explained, with the industry contributing immensely to SDG 4: quality education, SDG 6: clean water and sanitation, and SDG 7: affordable and clean energy.

According to GSMA, this is because of the increasing proportion of people using mobile for activities, such as obtaining educational informati on for themselves or their children, accessing government services, and paying bills.

However, the impact of the mobile industry on the SDGs stalled in 2022, due to a decline in the proportion of mobile subscribers engaging in activities on their phones relevant to the SDGs.

GSMA argued, “While mobile use across these activities remained higher than before the pandemic, the resumption of in-person engagements across sectors such as education and healthcare is likely to have an impact on user behaviour. The impact of the cost-of-living crisis is also likely to be impeding usage, as the global rise in inflation is putting pressure on consumers, potentially hindering their ability to fully use mobile services.”

The Director-General of GSMA, Mats Granryd, remarked, “The mobile industry’s biggest impact continues to be in SDG 9: industry, innovation, and infrastructure, driven by the widespread reach of mobile networks, investments in 5G and infrastructure and the growing uptake of mobile internet services.

“Over the past seven years, close to 2 billion more people have gained access to the Internet through their mobile phones. This significant connectivity achievement has brought us closer to bridging the digital divide and empowering individuals with the resources they need to thrive.”

According to GSMA, mobile is the primary means of accessing the Internet for most people in low- and middle-income countries, with 57 per cent of the world’s population (4.5 billion people) accessing critical information and services such as education, healthcare, and financial services, as well as income-generating opportunities through mobile Internet as of 2022’s end.

It added, “However, at the halfway point, more can be done to improve mobile’s contribution to the SDGs. The mobile industry must, therefore, work closely with stakeholders (including governments, other industries, civil society, and the international community) to find new ways to scale the impact of mobile.”

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