“The GSMA noted that that progress would not have been possible without 4G and 5G networks, which have allowed the mobile industry to provide better service to a greater number of people to ensure that everyone can actually take advantage of the tools that are available.”
The GSMA’s latest impact report suggests that mobile technology is helping the world achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Now in its sixth year, the SDG impact report tracks the mobile industry’s contributions to 17 SDGs, and found that progress was made in all 17 of those categories in the 2020 calendar year.
According to the GSMA, much of that progress can be attributed to the increased adoption of mobile technologies. 5.2 billion people were using a mobile phone as of the end of 2020, while 4 billion people are now using the mobile internet. Those figures correspond to 67 percent and 51 percent of the global population, respectively, and are up significantly over 2019.
As it relates to the SDGs, increased mobile adoption means that more people now have access to digital services that can improve their lives in various ways. For example, 2.3 billion people are now using mobile financial services, while 2.3 billion are purchasing essential goods like food directly through their phones. That raises financial inclusion and makes it easier for more people to participate in the digital economy, which in turn moves the world closer to SDGs like No Poverty (SDG 1) and Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8).
Other online services can similarly give people more ready access to healthcare and education. The GSMA noted that that progress would not have been possible without 4G and 5G networks, which have allowed the mobile industry to provide better service to a greater number of people to ensure that everyone can actually take advantage of the tools that are available.
On the environmental front, 31 percent of the world’s mobile operators (in terms of number of connections) have stated that they will reach a net zero carbon footprint by 2050. 69 percent have at least disclosed their current climate impacts.
The GSMA encouraged the public sector to work with the private sector to achieve the SDGs. The organization praised the mobile industry for getting halfway to its 2030 contribution goal, but warned against complacency now that the deadline is less than 10 years away. The progress tracker was at 33 percent in 2015 and 48 percent in 2019, compared to 50 percent in 2020.