LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 SERIES – AFRICA: HE Samia Suluhu, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania (pictured), opened the event by proclaiming “we are now witnessing a massive migration from the analogue to the digital age”.
Citing figures supporting the growth of mobile in Africa, she said: “We can no longer overlook the critical role the mobile industry plays in our economy. Such a direct and affordable channel before has never existed, and mobile phones are now held as critical enablers to eradicating poverty in all its forms and achieving the sustainable development agenda.”
“It is evident that it is only though the mobile industry we are able to unlock the economic potential of the region.”
Due to the nature of many African markets, where large parts of the population live in rural areas underserved by mobile networks, Suluhu warned of the danger of excluding this part of society from the benefits which come from access to healthcare, financial services, education and other content.
“In order to abet this situation, the mobile industry has a critical role to play. This role needs to be complemented by all, governments, the international community, the private sector, and civil society organisations, in order to ensure expansion of connectivity while lowering barriers to access and also by guaranteeing that tools and applications are developed with vulnerable communities in mind,” she said.
In her opening presentation, the politician also acknowledged “there is still much more to be done” to provide a platform for growth.
“In many of our countries, budgetary constraints for infrastructure and lack of qualified human capital have been responsible for failures in having a vibrant mobile industry. For the case of Tanzania, a wide geographical area and poor connectivity has also made it difficult to make quick progress in this regard. Reaching sparsely populated areas with infrastructure is deemed uneconomical for mobile service providers,” she said.
“However, the government has been working hard to ensure that these challenges are met accordingly, although much still needs to be done,” Suluhu continued.
With regard to the role of the regulators across Africa, the politician said legal, policy and regulatory frameworks need to be constructed in a way that they “are supporting and backing the mobile industry to work for Africa.”