GSMA creates Africa and Asia digital inclusion fund

06 April 2020

Mobile industry group GSMA has launched the Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion, designed to increase mobile internet adoption and usage among those who have coverage but are not using it in in Africa and Asia.

It is supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Germany, the GSMA and its members. 

The rationale behind the creation of the fund is to find innovative ways to solve the usage gap for the digitally excluded in the world's two largest continents. Mobile operators have invested almost $USD1tn in network infrastructure over the past five years, bringing mobile internet coverage to 91 percent of the world’s population, but 3.3 billion of the 7.1 billion people covered aren not currently using mobile internet services, said the GSMA.

Innovations include those designed to improve the accessibility, usability and affordability of handsets and mobile internet services for citizens who are unable to access them as well as those focusing on improving basic digital skills and confidence to access and use mobile internet. The safety and security of individuals regarding the use of mobile internet is another prime objective.

The GSMA added that the fund will support startups or small to medium enterprises (SMEs) 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, including women. It will also test innovations with the most significant potential for growth and impact in both Africa and Asia, it said.