GSMA’s Seventh Annual SDG Impact Report Shows Digital Inclusion at the Heart of SDG Progress

NEW YORK, September 21, 2022 /CNW/ — Closing the mobile internet “usage gap” should be a priority for countries seeking to meet the United Nations’ ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, according to the GSMA’s seventh annual report on the mobile industry impact: sustainable development goals.

The report shows that, six years after becoming the first sector to commit to the SDGs, the mobile industry continues to increase its contribution to achieving the 17 goals. However, despite mobile operators’ continued commitment to the 2030 Agenda, there is still a long way to go.

A combination of global conflict, growing food and energy poverty, economic uncertainty and the continued impacts of Covid-19 are creating significant headwinds, currently threatening progress on the SDGs around the world. In the face of these challenges, the report highlights the crucial role that mobile connectivity and connected technologies can play as enablers, helping countries to “build better” in the pursuit of economic recovery and resilience.

In many countries, especially low- and middle-income countries, mobile is the primary means of accessing the Internet. Investments by mobile operators in network infrastructure have helped reduce the “coverage gap”[1] for mobile broadband networks from 1.4 billion people in 2015 to 400 million people in 2022, contributing strongly to a series of SDG indicators.

However, around 3.2 billion people covered by networks still cannot enjoy the benefits of this connectivity, due to lack of skills, knowledge, affordability, relevant content and other factors. This “utilization gap” is quickly emerging as one of the biggest “brakes” to economic and social progress on a global scale.

The report shows how people with access to fast and reliable networks can stay in touch with friends and family, work remotely, access education and healthcare services, build innovative businesses, improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Those without access, on the other hand, are the most vulnerable to economic and social disruption and risk falling further behind as the world emerges from the pandemic, especially as online services become even more more essential to society.

Jose-Maria Alvarez PalleteCEO of Telefonica and Chairman of the GSMA, said: “In a world where conflict, food insecurity and economic uncertainty are at the top of the global agenda, mobile has never had a more important role to play. GSMA demonstrates the transformational impact of communications in addressing these enormous challenges, acting as a catalyst for positive change and meaningful progress.”

CEO of the GSMA, Mats Granrydsaid: “The General Assembly of the United Nations in New York this week is a powerful reminder of the importance of collective action in the face of growing global challenges. The SDGs remain a guiding compass for global progress, and the mobile industry is proud to be both their champion and a key enabler of their achievement.

“Mobile connectivity and digital inclusion are essential tools to achieve the ambitious goals set out in the 2030 Agenda and help the world weather the headwinds of global inequality, poverty and conflict. We urge policy makers to remove the barriers that impede private sector investment in high-quality mobile networks and help close the “use gap” that prevents so many people from realizing their potential in our increasingly connected world Together, we can harness the power of connectivity as a catalyst for economic recovery and social progress, and digital inclusion, improving the lives of millions of people around the world.”

The mobile industry’s contributions to the SDGs

  • The mobile industry increased its impact on all 17 SDGs in 2021, with the average year-over-year increase accelerating compared to 2020. The average SDG impact score on all 17 SDGs reached 53 , up from 49 in 2020 and 32 in 2015, meaning the mobile industry achieves 53% of what it could potentially contribute to the SDGs. Other highlights include:
    – There are now eleven SDGs where the mobile contribution is above 50, compared to six in 2020 and none in 2015.
    – The mobile industry continues to have its highest impact on SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, thanks to the reach of mobile networks and the adoption of mobile internet services.
    – The greatest improvements were recorded in industry’s contribution to SDG 1: No Poverty, SDG 2: Zero Hunger and SDG 4: Quality Education. This is due to the growing proportion of people using mobile for life-enhancing activities, such as accessing government services, applying and finding jobs, and obtaining education information for them. themselves or their children.

Download the report at:

Notes for editors:

  • At the end of 2021, 5.3 billion people (66% of the world’s population) used a mobile phone, while 4.3 billion people (55% of the world’s population) also used mobile internet. This includes more than 3.3 billion mobile internet subscribers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where mobile is the primary and, in many cases, the only form of internet access.
  • The “usage gap” – those who live in areas covered by mobile broadband networks but are not connected – has narrowed for the third consecutive year, but still stands at 3.2 billion people. The mobile industry and its partners continue to address the reasons for the usage gap, which are generally related to a lack of affordability, knowledge and skills, relevance, in addition to safety and security issues. security.
  • The use of mobile activities reached new heights in 2021 as mobile subscribers ventured further into online services.
    3.5 billion people (67% of mobile subscribers) used their phones to make video calls in 2021. That’s an additional 330 million people since 2020, making remote work and other online activities easier.
    – 2.5 billion people (48% of mobile subscribers) used their phones to access educational information for themselves or their children, an increase of 410 million since 2020.
    – 2.1 billion people (41% of mobile subscribers) used their phones to improve or monitor their health, an increase of 270 million since 2020.
  • The use of mobile services remained considerably lower in developing countries. On average, the gap between mobile service usage in high-income countries and LMICs is 17 percentage points, highlighting the importance of operators’ efforts to introduce more locally relevant content and upgrade networks to allow access to services requiring a higher quality connection.
  • The mobile phone industry is making steady progress in disclosing climate impact data and setting emission reduction targets. At the end of 2021, 66% of operators by connections and 82% by turnover disclosed their climate impacts, while 34% of operators by connections and 44% by turnover had set carbon reduction targets at net zero by 2050.
  • Mobile and digital technology could enable just under 40% of the CO required2 reductions needed by 2030 in the four most emitting industries. These four industries – manufacturing, electricity and energy, transport and buildings – account for 80% of global emissions.
  • There has been strong growth in sustainable bond issuance in the mobile sector. This shows that operators are increasingly obtaining funding on the basis of achieving social and environmental objectives rather than purely financial ones.
  • As stakeholders become smarter and more demanding about ESG claims, an effective and consistent approach to measuring and reporting performance is more important than ever. The GSMA recently launched ESG Metrics for Mobile, a first-of-its-kind ESG reporting framework for the mobile sector, comprising ten industry-specific KPIs. KPIs will allow stakeholders to gain a much deeper understanding of industry nuances and contexts, and create opportunities for the industry to more consistently demonstrate its impact.

About the GSMA

The GSMA is a global organization uniting the mobile ecosystem to discover, develop and deliver fundamental innovations for positive business environments and societal change. Our vision is to unleash the full power of connectivity so that people, industry and society thrive. Representing mobile operators and organizations in the mobile ecosystem and adjacent industries, the GSMA delivers to its members on three main pillars: Connectivity for Good, Industry Services and Solutions, and Outreach. This business includes advancing policy, solving today’s greatest societal challenges, supporting the technology and interoperability that powers mobile, and delivering the world’s largest platform. to bring the mobile ecosystem together during the MWC and M360 series of events.

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[1] “Coverage gap” refers to people living outside areas covered by mobile broadband networks


For further information: Mike Witts, Director of Public Relations, GSMA. Mobile: +44 (0)7773 667 620 Email: [email protected]

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