UK's DFID to finance mobile technology for poverty reduction
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) will provide financial support to the GSMA Foundation, the global mobile operators’ association, to develop and roll out new technologies to fight poverty. The partnership was announced during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and aims to improve responses to natural disasters, help women obtain financial services and boost access to safe water and clean energy across the developing world. The partnership will make significant contributions to nine of the Global Goals including ending extreme poverty, promoting decent work and economic growth, innovation and infrastructure, affordable and clean energy, clean water and sanitation and addressing gender inequality. ???“With more people in developing countries using mobiles than ever before, this partnership with the GSMA and its members will increase access to banking services, especially for women, bring access to energy to many for the first time and even vital health information,” said Nick Hurd, Minister of International Development, UK. “We have a real opportunity to accelerate the development of mobile technologies that can save lives, help women reach their potential and boost the growth of emerging economies for Britain to trade with,” he added. “A more prosperous, connected and stable world is firmly in our national interest.” Previous work between DFID and the GSMA has helped deliver mobile-based solutions for people in the developing world, including:
  • ReadyPay Solar, to allow thousands of people in Uganda to pay for small-scale solar electricity in their homes through their mobile phone. It is estimated that power outages cost developing countries 1-2 percent of their GDP annually;
  • PEG Ghana, using mobile technology to help 2.5 million people access solar power. Globally 1.2 billion people still lack access to electricity; and
  • SweetSense Sensors, to improve access to clean water in Rwanda. People living in rural Africa commonly use handpumps to access safe water, yet an estimated one in three are not functional. Mobile-enabled sensors inside the pump-head send information when a pump stops working the online dashboard sends alerts to maintenance staff so they can make immediate repairs, reducing the average time a community spends without safe water by 131 days.
“Through our Mobile for Development team, [the GSMA has a] track record in delivering life-enhancing mobile solutions at scale, in critical areas such as mobile money, health and nutrition, agriculture, utilities and many others,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA. “We welcome the opportunity to partner with DFID to bring the power of mobile to our shared objectives of reaching the underserved and delivering on the Global Goals.” This extended partnership builds on DFID’s previous work supporting mobile technology. In 2005, DFID provided initial seed funding for MPesa, a mobile money transfer and banking system in Africa and that help spur the development of mobile.
By Jonathan Andrews
Photo: ??CIMMYT