LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 SERIES – AFRICA: Bob Collymore, CEO of Kenya-based operator Safaricom (pictured), used his keynote presentation to put a “human face” on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He talked about Imelda, a 12-year-old primary school student from an informal settlement on the periphery of Nairobi. Unable to continue to attend classes due to money concerns, she was able to turn to an app from Eneza (called Shupavu 291) to receive up-to-date tutoring via a feature phone, enabling her to continue her learning without in-class instruction and take (and pass) end-of-year exams.
Collymore also cited the example of Hudson, a woodcarving craftsman from the outskirts of Nairobi. While he had customers, formal banking would not support his business growth as he was deemed an unsure bet. However, microloans service M-Shwari, accessed via the mobile phone, enabled him to invest and build a more stable future.
“The true power of the mobile phone lies in its power to improve access to essential services,” Collymore said.
“For SDGs to succeed in Africa, more businesses will need to collaborate in similar ways. These brave collaborations are sometimes not easy, driven by needs but not the bottom line. This means that African businesses can, and must, take a longer term view, to become a force for good, for people and the planet,” Collymore continued.
“We already know that the private sector is the most capable in our society to drive change. We have the power to pull together governments and civil society, to drive initiatives that can benefit our society at large. We can form partnerships that enable action to take place to tackle some of the most challenging issues facing the communities in which we live,” the executive said.
“Every day, a life is changed by the ubiquity of the mobile phone. The mobile phone will be the tool to define Africa’s future. Let’s make it the tool that delivers the SDG vision,” he concluded.