The Director General of the GSMA, Mats Granryd lauded the impact mobile technology has had across Africa but identified a number of barriers that need to be addressed to increase digital inclusion at the GSMA Mobile 360 event in Tanzania today.
Less than half of the population subscribes to mobile services, lower than the global average of 63 per cent mobile penetration, and while mobile internet adoption in Africa has seen a tripling of subscribers in the last 5 years to 300 million, this represents only one quarter of the total population reports Mobile Live.
“900 million people are digitally excluded and unable to enjoy socio-economic benefits delivered by mobile internet,” said Granryd. “Even in 2020, 60 per cent of the population in the region will still not be connected to the internet.”
4 barriers to digital inclusion
To extend mobile access across Africa, Granryd wants to see improvements in network coverage, affordability, digital skills and awareness, and locally relevant content.
Network coverage can be enhanced by expanding mobile broadband networks to underserved population groups “by promoting infrastructure sharing, regulatory best practice and technical innovation,” he stated.
Meanwhile the industry needs to address mobile-specific taxation to help make internet access more affordable, especially for ‘bottom of the pyramid’ citizens.
And Granryd said communities should be trained “so they understand the benefits and opportunities of being online and have skills to use mobile internet.”
Fourth on his list was the need for locally relevant content: “We need to encourage and promote development of content and services that are relevant to underserved population groups.”.