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By Emmanuel Elebeke

The umbrella body of global mobile operators, GSMA says 93 percent of the global population now have access to mobile phones.

It said the figure is more than people who have basic services such as electricity, or sanitation, or water.

Head of international relations, GSMA, Ms Belinda Exelby, said it’s astonishing how much transformation information and communication technologies, ICTs, have brought to humanity.

She pointed out that the mobile industry is having an impact on every single Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that the impact has increased since the previous year.

Exelby said: “Surprisingly, the four SDGs where it has the most impact are: SDG 4, on quality education; SDG 9 on industry innovation and infrastructure; SDG 11 on smart sustainable cities; and SDG 13, on climate action.

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“This year, we’ve seen 1.6 million households being connected to solar home systems, which enable them to have access through mobile-enabled, pay-as-you-go mechanisms to clean energy and electricity rather than the dangerous or polluting sources that they were using previously.”

“Working together to bridge the global digital divide, our mission at GSMA is to connect everyone and everything to a better future. So everything that we do is done through that lens,” she said.

Exelby, however, said they work closely with their member operators to promote innovative new services, business models, and capacity building.

“We also work with governments to advocate a policy and regulatory framework that will help to overcome some of the barriers to adoption of internet, such as digital literacy, digital skills, the lack of locally relevant content and, of course, the affordability issue,” she explained.

She said to close the connectivity gap, there is need to work together, even as she pleaded with the ITU Member States to work genuinely with the private sector so that they can all come together and overcome this challenge.

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