GSMA Rolls Out Innovation Fund For Rural Connectivity

The GSMA has started an Innovation Fund for Rural Connectivity, aimed at broadening digital inclusion through alternative new technology solutions for connecting unserved rural communities.

The GSMA is managing the fund, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is backing it.

The Fund plans to provide grants up to the amount of £300,000  and is open to qualified companies who can install solutions in Uganda or Ghana, in partnership with Vodafone Ghana and MTN Uganda respectively.

Funded projects will test new methods to place mobile broadband networks in rural areas, and will in the long run, hopefully, demonstrate commercially sustainable models that can be taken and replicated in similar environments.

The Chief Regulatory Officer at GSMA, Mr John Giusti has said that mobile operators are committed to improving connectivity in rural areas as they work to devise commercially viable solutions to boost progress against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Giusti added that the Innovation Fund for Rural Connectivity would drive alliances aimed at coming up with new ways of using mobile technologies to improve coverage in rural areas so that more people have access to mobile services.

The GSMA will provide successful grantees and their partners with advice and guidance and will also be given analytical support to identify commercially suitable sites for installation, and full technical and commercial performance reports.

Applications will focus on either active base station technology, energy, passive infrastructure, backhaul, sustainable business models or operation and maintenance.

Mobile internet connectivity in rural areas will improve the lives of the people in a big way and will help eradicate poverty, improve healthcare, education and financial services.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals acknowledge the importance of connectivity and include a target on ensuring efficient and affordable access to the internet.

More than two-thirds of the global community is currently connected to the internet, according to the GSMA’s Connectivity Index1. The GSMA’s latest Mobile Industry Impact Report2 states that countries with higher levels of mobile connectivity have had more success in meeting their SDG commitments.


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