Mobile technology at the service of global objectives
The same technology that allows us to keep in touch with family and friends can also be a tool for Sustainable Development. Photo: iHub
When I started working and living abroad, staying in touch with my family and friends in Kenya was important. The mobile phone has helped to facilitate our communications and, more recently, mobile money has improved my ability to stay connected and give back to my community. This experience has contributed to my confidence in the vital role and potential of mobile technology for the sustainable development sector.
The new UNDP strategic Plan calls for bolder use of innovation to meet the emerging needs of member states. One way to do this is to explore the possibilities of new technologies and innovative ways to use them to achieve sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For example, advances in digital and mobile technologies have improved financial inclusion. Mobile money offers easy and convenient ways to transfer money in and between countries, directly to the intended recipient, at any time of the day or night, without needing a bank account or even the ability to read or write. For many members of the diaspora, a way to give back easily to the family and friends who remained in the country of origin is invaluable.
Mobile telephony has already transformed societies around the world, including geographic areas, income levels and crops – helping to empower women, create jobs, boost financial independence, improve education, boost agricultural production and promote health. Mobile phones have enabled communities to monitor elections more closely, hold governments to account and save lives in natural disasters, contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.
To exploit this potential, UNDP is partnering with the GSMA Foundation (English), with support from the UK government and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), to promote business solutions for the SDGs, working with the mobile industry.
UNDP is working with the Government of Ghana, GSMA and other partners to support digital transformation. Photo: UNDP Ghana
This partnership brings together governments and mobile industry to identify solutions to national development priorities and leverage resources and innovation for Sustainable Development.
National dialogues have already been initiated in Ghana and Bangladesh.
In Ghana, industry leaders, the government, UNDP and the UK Development Agency are committed to :
Coordinate and support the efforts of the Government, mobile operators and GSMA to facilitate a social, business and political environment conducive to digital transformation in Ghana.
Continue to explore the potential of the use of mobile technology and its social impact in sectors such as inclusive financial services, agriculture, gender, energy, water, and digital identity, based on current policy priorities. In addition, a digital transformation program with UNCDF on access to finance for youth and women is under development.
In Bangladesh, the dialogue about the digital transformation took place in January 2018 and a follow up is ongoing to define a plan of action that identifies the mobile solutions that are commercially viable and affordable, using innovative technologies such as drones for surveillance of fields, and sensors for the management of water and soil, that per would to ensure the food security, nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
This year, GSMA has pledged to continue supporting these actions in Ghana and Bangladesh, and to expand its operations to new markets in Uganda and an Asian country. This initiative strengthens collaboration between the government, the mobile industry, UNDP and other development partners to co-design mobile solutions that have a positive impact on the SDGs.