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The UK Concentrating on Helping Telecoms in the Developing World

The UK is working with the mobile telecommunications industry to improve coverage, affordability and accessibility. The GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion, initiated in partnership with GSMA and the Mobile 4 Development foundation, is helping to facilitate mobile internet adoption for 3.4bn people around the world. It is also supporting start-ups to develop and deliver innovative mobile services for users in Africa and Asia. In a new report, “The rise of Africa’s digital economy – tackling the ‘usage gap’ to create a thriving market for mobile services”, which was launched in Oct at MWC Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) highlighted the opportunities that exist if businesses and governments work collaboratively to improve access and usage to mobile channels.

According to the UK ministry, economic growth can be secured by increasing access digital-first services of all types, including health, education and even entertainment content. Juniper Research, has recently claimed that ecommerce transactions globally hit USD 4.9tn in 2021. This was boosted in part by the COVID pandemic which forced people to stay home and brought a renewed focus on digital interactions. That number is expected to rise to USD 7.5tn by 2026. In Africa, a Google and IFC report estimates that internet businesses could add an extra $180bn to the continent’s GDP by 2025. While Africa is primarily a mobile-first continent, access to the internet in remote locations is not assured, with adopting remaining a challenge. According to the DIT report, other factors that need to be resolved include affordability – the cost of data and smartphones, digital education and the lack of targeted local content for users.

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