LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 SERIES – AFRICA: GSMA director general Mats Granryd (pictured) talked up the need for “sustainable partnerships” to support the positive impact the mobile industry is having in Africa, including its role supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Some may view pursuing the SDGs as mainly CSR, something that ‘makes business look good’. But it’s clearly much more than that. It is good business – I want to stress that, it’s good business. We all need to make money, but we need to do it in a sustainable way,” Granryd said.
“The mobile industry cannot solve the challenges of the SDG’s alone – no one can. Governments, industry, humanitarian organisations, and individuals, we all must come together to build sustainable partnerships that will achieve the SDGs,” he added.
The GSMA head said the region is seeing growth in mobile broadband (3G and 4G) take-up – about a third of mobile connections in the region were running on such networks in 2016 and forecast to rise to roughly 66 per cent by 2020 – and in smartphone penetration, which has doubled in the last two years.
Mobile money remains the continent’s big success story, with 140 live services in 39 countries, accounting for nearly 280 million registered accounts. And pay-as-you-go solar power is impacting 4.8 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Similar opportunities lie in sectors including healthcare, agriculture and others, “and this is just the beginning of the digital age in Africa,” he said.
Granryd returned to the theme of cross-industry alignment when it comes to the economy, noting the region’s mobile industry generated $110 billion in economic value in 2016, equivalent to 7.7 per cent of regional GDP.
“To support all this investment and innovation, we need governments to put in place policies that incentivise investment and promote development of the digital economy. Forward-looking governments will encourage the build-out of good networks that improve connectivity and innovation and also make sure that regulation is developed for the new digital age,” he explained.