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GSMA leads coalition to lower smartphone costs in developing nations

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In Short:

GSMA has formed a global coalition called the ‘Handset Affordability Coalition’ to make smartphones more affordable in the world’s poorest countries. The coalition comprises major global telcos, vendors, and international organizations. It aims to improve access to internet-enabled devices, particularly in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). The coalition will work on reducing the barriers to getting online, such as digital literacy, skills, and handset affordability.

GSMA Forms Global Coalition to Boost Smartphone Affordability

The telecom industry body, GSM Association (GSMA), has announced the formation of a global coalition aimed at enhancing the affordability of smartphones in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Critical Need for Affordable Devices

The coalition, known as the GSMA ‘Handset Affordability Coalition’, consists of major global telcos, vendors, device ecosystem partners, international organizations, and financing institutions such as the World Bank Group, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the WEF Edison Alliance.

GSMA stated that mobile devices remain the primary means of internet access for people in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), accounting for 84% of broadband connections in 2023. However, around three billion people worldwide are unable to utilize this due to barriers like digital literacy, lack of relevant content, and affordability issues.

Focusing on Bridging the ‘Usage Gap’

The coalition will work towards improving access to affordable internet-enabled devices to address the ‘Usage Gap’ that hinders millions of individuals from fully participating in the digital economy.

GSMA emphasized that handset affordability is a significant obstacle preventing many from going online and engaging with the digital world.

Driving Innovation in Affordability Solutions

The coalition will explore various approaches to reduce the cost of entry into the digital economy, with a particular focus on LMICs and regions where affordability is a major barrier to internet access.

By collaborating on innovative solutions and leveraging ‘de-risking’ financing mechanisms supported by the World Bank Group, the coalition aims to expand digital access and affordability for underserved populations.

Industry and Development Community Collaboration

Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA, emphasized the importance of bringing mobile internet to those in need to bridge the ‘Usage Gap’ and unlock opportunities for millions.

Guangzhe Chen, Vice President for Infrastructure at the World Bank, highlighted the crucial role of making internet-connected devices more affordable in accelerating digitalization and ensuring inclusivity.

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Secretary General of the ITU, emphasized the coalition’s alignment with the Broadband Commission’s affordability target and its potential to drive universal meaningful connectivity.

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