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UK and GSMA partner on mobile technology to fight global poverty

23 February 2016  |  2145 views  |  0 Source: GSMA

Innovative mobile technology will provide life-enhancing services to millions of people in poverty as part of a new partnership between the UK government, the GSMA Foundation, and the GSMA, the organisation that represents mobile operators worldwide.

“We have a real opportunity to accelerate the development of mobile technologies that can save lives, help women reach their potential and boost the growth of emerging economies for Britain to trade with. A more prosperous, connected and stable world is firmly in our national interest.”

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The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) will provide financial support to develop and roll out new technologies that can improve response to natural disasters, help women obtain financial services and boost access to safe water and clean energy across the developing world.

The partnership will make significant contributions to nine of the Global Goals including ending extreme poverty, promoting decent work and economic growth, innovation and infrastructure, affordable and clean energy, clean water and sanitation and addressing gender inequality.

UK International Development Minister Nick Hurd said, “Over the last decade the UK has been at the forefront of bringing the battle against extreme poverty into the digital era. With more people in developing countries using mobiles than ever before, this partnership with the GSMA and its members will increase access to banking services, especially for women, bring access to energy to many for the first time and even vital health information.

“We have a real opportunity to accelerate the development of mobile technologies that can save lives, help women reach their potential and boost the growth of emerging economies for Britain to trade with. A more prosperous, connected and stable world is firmly in our national interest.”

“Through our Mobile for Development team, the GSMA has a proven track record in delivering life-enhancing mobile solutions at scale, in critical areas such as mobile money, health and nutrition, agriculture, utilities and many others,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA. “We welcome the opportunity to partner with DFID to bring the power of mobile to our shared objectives of reaching the underserved and delivering on the Global Goals.”

Over the past three years, DFID and the GSMA have worked together to deliver mobile-based solutions for people in the developing world, including:

  • ReadyPay Solar, to allow thousands of people in Uganda to pay for small-scale solar electricity in their homes through their mobile phone. It is estimated that power outages cost developing countries 1-2 per cent of their GDP annually;
  • PEG Ghana, using mobile technology to help 2.5 million people access solar power. Globally 1.2 billion people still lack access to electricity; and
  • SweetSense Sensors, to improve access to clean water in Rwanda. People living in rural Africa commonly use handpumps to access safe water, yet an estimated one in three are not functional. Mobile-enabled sensors inside the pump-head send information when a pump stops working the online dashboard sends alerts to maintenance staff so they can make immediate repairs, reducing the average time a community spends without safe water by 131 days.

This extended partnership builds on DFID’s previous work supporting mobile technology to drive development. For instance in 2005, DFID provided initial seed funding for MPesa, a ground-breaking mobile money transfer and banking system that has revolutionised financial service provision in Africa and spurred the development of mobile money around the world.

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