The 2016 Mobile 360 Africa conference was held for the first time in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 26–28th July 2016.
The conference aimed at outlining new strategies and cross-industry collaboration to accelerate mobile access across the region.
The event gathered operators, government officials, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), finance, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and media leaders across Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
Their focus was to evaluate how to elevate access across the region with focus on digital inclusion, network coverage and customers’ quality of experience.
“More than half a billion people across Africa are now subscribed to a mobile network, providing them not just with connectivity but a gateway to a range of other essential services in areas such as digital identity, healthcare and financial services,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA.
“The positive transformational impact of mobile is being felt more profoundly in Africa than anywhere else in the world; Africa’s mobile industry is at the forefront of helping to deliver the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” added Granryd.
GSMA Connected Women Initiative
On the first day of the event, the GSMA announced that a further 9 operators joined the Connected Women Commitment Initiative.
The initiative focuses on reducing the gender gap in mobile internet and mobile money services.
The newly joined operators include Orange Mali, Smart Burundi, Smart Tanzania, Smart Uganda, Tigo Chad, Tigo Ghana, Tigo Senegal, Tigo Tanzania and Zantel.
Closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage in the developing world could unlock an estimated USD170b market opportunity for the mobile industry in the period 2015–2020, according to a press release published by GSMA.
Tanzania Rural Connectivity Project
During the event, the GSMA also announced that a rural mobile network, built by AMOTEL and the World Telecom Labs (WTL), is now active in 3 remote Tanzanian villages.
None of these villages have ever been covered by any kind of telephone network before. Each village has a minimum of 1,500 people with Average Revenue per User (ARPU) of around USD2.5.
Granryd concluded, “To connect the unconnected, governments with large rural communities need to promote the acceleration of national broadband coverage by releasing low-frequency spectrum, incentivizing commercial sharing arrangements to facilitate infrastructure roll-out in rural areas, and creating an enabling taxation environment in order to deliver the mobile internet, even in the most challenging of places.”
GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund
On the second day of the conference, the GSMA announced the launch of the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund.
The Fund will support innovative start-ups in emerging markets and is open to start-ups from and operating in Africa and selected countries in Asia.
The Fund is backed by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and supported by the GSMA and its members.
The Fund will provide funding and mobile-focused mentoring and technical assistance to selected start-ups, and establish partnerships between operators and start-ups to increase the reach of innovative mobile services.
The Fund will run several rounds between 2016 and 2020, with each round having specific areas of focus.
During the first funding round, which will disburse approximately GBP2m, applicants must focus on:
- Sharing Economy – defined as any mobile-based platform, product or service which enables low-income citizens in emerging markets to generate income from ‘under-utilized assets’, such as free personal time or vehicle use, by sharing those assets with their peers.
- Services for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) – defined as any mobile-based solution, product or service designed for micro and SMEs in emerging markets that unlock improved productivity and growth.