GSMA: We are here for the industry

By Akinwale Goodluck
On 11 July 2019 at 12:07

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators and nearly 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors.

Within Africa and beyond, the mandate of the GSMA continues to be to represent all its members in a fair and transparent manner, to promote best practice regulatory and policy advocacy and to ensure the industry continues to thrive with the overarching objective of intelligently connecting everyone and everything to a better future.

Mobile plays a very strategic and defining role in our lives and the technology associated with it is fast evolving leading to numerous innovations and driving life changing solutions. The telco sector is at the centre of digital transformation and this is contributing to a lot of changes in the way the sector operates.

The GSMA recognizes the pivotal role mobile is playing and is keen to ensure that even with this revolution, the benefits of mobile continues to be real and far reaching especially as the industry leverages the power of mobile to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by delivering and scaling mobile-enabled solutions and extending mobile connectivity to people who are offline.

As part of its commitment to the SDGs, the GSMA is working closely with the industry, policymakers, and the international development community to help connect the unconnected and to identify new opportunities to leverage and scale mobile-enabled solutions that improve people’s quality of life.

This work is being done through several ongoing GSMA programmes and initiatives, including Mobile for Development, which identifies opportunities and delivers innovations with socioeconomic impact in financial services, health, agriculture, digital identity, energy, water, sanitation, disaster resilience and gender equality and Big Data for Social Good.

According to the 2019 GSMA Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa Report, mobile adoption in the region has grown rapidly in recent years.

By end of 2018, there were 456 million unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa - an increase of 20 million over the previous year and representing a subscriber penetration rate of 44%. Access to mobile connectivity is vital to empowering consumers and driving economic growth.

For many consumers across this region, the mobile phone is not just a communication device but also the primary channel to get online, as well as a vital tool to access various life-enhancing services.

With this in mind, the GSMA is working together with the mobile industry to change the perception that the industry is simply about creating shareholder value but rather it’s an industry committed to sustainable socio economic development in the lives of the communities they serve through initiatives such as We Care.

Mobile operators in the region want to ensure that its users enjoy the transformative benefits of mobile technology in a safe and reliable environment through a series of commitments so that the mobile phone and mobile networks can provide various solutions to social problems.

The innovation funds and grants that the GSMA offers through some of its Mobile for Development programmes are also a great way through which it is enabling MNOs to create lasting partnerships with start-ups in the delivery of services and also bridge the gap between operators and innovators thus enabling strong partnerships that support the growth of commercially sustainable mobile products and services.

This is also a way of harnessing the potential that operator driven mobile payments can have on the consumers as they help empower not just individuals but also communities.

The telco industry is not working on its own as it embarks on this journey of transformation. It is only an enabler through which the critical building blocks for positive change are being provided.

The milestones achieved in the mobile industry will also be beneficial to other sectors such as finance, health, agriculture and education among others.

For the GSMA, working with the industry continues to be key especially with the advancements that it is making. It is therefore of utmost importance that we are not just seen to be enablers of the mobile world but also key players for the sector to function in an efficient manner.

Akinwale Goodluck, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA