In March, Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, Spain hosted the 2017 Mobile World Congress, one of the largest events in the world to showcase the latest innovations and designs in mobile technology. The conference was attended by more than 108,000 visitors from 2,300 companies across 208 countries. Among the topics covered in its many domains was Mobile for Development, showcasing the future of development tech to combat poverty.
Keynote speaker and GSMA director general Mats Granryd addressed the unique advantage that mobile technology has in helping to achieve each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals are proposed by the United Nations to ensure prosperity for all, protect the planet and end poverty worldwide over the next 15 years.
Granryd also discussed the future of development tech on social media, tweeting on February 26: “Mobile. The Next Element. Fundamental to our everyday life and #MWC17 is going to show what the future of mobile holds.”
Two separate seminars during the event focused on Mobile for Development, looking at both product and project development ideas in emerging markets. The Mobile for Development Rural Village illustrates the benefits farmers and rural populations can reap from mobile technology, which includes management of smart irrigation, solar power, natural gas and even weather forecasting.
Tremendous progress has already been made in providing mobile technology access to developing nations, with some of the greatest growth being in the financial services industry. There are nearly six times as many registered accounts with Mobile Financial Services today than there were in 2012, and 30 countries now have 10 times the number of active Mobile Financial Services agents than physical bank branches.
GSMA’s Humanitarian Connectivity Charter was also covered during the Mobile World Congress 2017, which in 2016 was streamlined to include the growing population of refugees of political and natural disasters. The program’s major principles of enhancing coordination, scaling and standardizing preparedness and strengthening partnerships will serve the 21.3 million refugees worldwide, the largest volume of human displacement on record.
The Mobile World Congress will continue to be held in Barcelona, but a new division, the Mobile World Congress Americas, will be held in September in San Francisco. The addition of a U.S. event is more evidence of the powerful growth of the future of development tech, poised to improve the lives of people across the globe.
– Dan Krajewski