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GSMA claims mobile devices impact Internet accessibility

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The Global System for Mobile telecommunications Association (GSMA) believes that the type of mobile device used has a major impact on how the Internet is accessed.

The body, which represents the interest of over 800 million vendors and mobile operators across the globe, noted that though it is possible to access the Internet on a feature phone, Internet use however, is typically much richer, more regular and varied on a smartphone.

The body in its Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020 report released at the weekend, observed that across Low, and Middle Income Countries (LMICs),1.2 billion women now own a smartphone.

This, according to GSMA marks a rapid increase in these markets, where female smartphone ownership has grown from 44 per cent to 55 per cent since 2017.

In Nigeria, Mobility Arena, informed that as at 2018, there were 38 million smartphones in the hands of some 25 million users.

GSMA however, said women in LMICs are still 20 per cent less likely than men to own a smartphone, a considerably wider gender gap than for mobile ownership overall.

The report found that in all Asian and African countries surveyed, women are significantly less likely to own a smartphone. Even in markets with a relatively small mobile gender gap, such as Algeria, where the mobile ownership gender gap is just six per cent, the gap widens significantly for smartphone ownership, with 55 per cent of women owning a smartphone compared to 68 per cent of men.

The survey also found that female smartphone owners are significantly less likely to have controlled their smartphone purchase – a sign of women’s lack of financial autonomy in this crucial milestone of the user journey. For example, in Senegal, 68 per cent of male smartphone owners purchased their own device compared to only 26 per cent of women. In Uganda only 50 per cent of women bought their own smartphone compared to 86 per cent of men.

Meanwhile, in terms of bridging mobile gender gap, the GSMA announced the first wave of operators to make or renew their Connected Women Commitment through to 2023.

According to the body, Kenya’s Safaricom, Vodacom in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Orange Finances Mobiles Senegal and Mobile Money Limited (a subsidiary of MTN Ghana) were amongst those making the pledge.

The GSMA introduced the Connected Women Commitment Initiative in 2016 to catalyze action to close the mobile gender gap. Over this time, 39 mobile operators across Africa, Asia and Latin America have made formal commitments to reduce the gender gap in their mobile money or mobile Internet customer base by 2020. These operators have already reached more than 35 million additional women with mobile Internet or mobile money services, and are driving increased digital and financial inclusion for women.

“We applaud all operators who are partnering with us on this critical initiative and look forward to working together to accelerate digital and financial inclusion for women,” said Director- General of GSMA, Mats Granryd.

Granryd revealed that the percentage of women using mobile Internet in Sub-Saharan Africa was actually one per cent% better in 2018, at 38 per cent.

“We are seeing important progress in driving equal Internet access for women, but the pace of progress still remains slow. We urge business and government communities to continue prioritizing efforts to drive more equal access to mobile technology.

“Ensuring digital and financial inclusion for women is critically important, as we know that when women thrive, societies, businesses and economies thrive,” Granryd noted.


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