Around 40% of people in the developing world now actively subscribe to mobile services, with many more having access to a mobile, if not direct ownership. Mobile access in these regions has outpaced the rate at which much of the population is gaining access to basic services such as electricity, sanitation, and banking. As such, there has been increased focus on the role mobile can play in improving social, economic and environmental development in emerging markets. There are now over 1,000 live, mobile-enabled products and services in the developing world across several verticals, including financial services, health and entrepreneurship. While there has been substantial growth in the number of these services over the last three years, the opportunity to achieve broad-based scale is significant.
Mobile operators are increasingly incorporating these 'mobile for development’ (M4D) services as important components of their value added services (VAS) portfolio in developing markets, partly as a contributing driver of future revenue growth, but more importantly as an enabler to forging a loyal relationship with previously unconnected, low-income subscribers. As the use of mobile data rises over the next three to five years, capturing the loyalty of these subscribers now will be key to solidifying the operators’ place in the data value chain in the future.
Our new report, Scaling Mobile for Development, outlines the challenges and opportunities for achieving commercial success and social impact through M4D services. It has been developed by Mobile for Development Intelligence with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. Our inclusive approach included a research process and production of an interim (April 2013) and final report, with a series of peer review workshops held in Nairobi, Kenya and Washington DC to drive collaboration and thought leadership across stakeholder groups.