Insights from 2017


Mobile 360 – Africa brought over 800 attendees together to connect and network with the brightest industry leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa. The three-day event focused on the central role of mobile technology in driving digital services in Africa. Presentations and panel discussions highlighted the positive impact of mobile-enabled solutions on individuals and communities. They also stressed the need for greater collaboration between stakeholders – governments, mobile operators, other ecosystem players, the private sector and development agencies – to enhance access to connectivity and sustain the delivery of life-enhancing services to underserved populations across the region.

For a complete recap of the discussion and trends, please read the full highlights courtesy of GSMA Intelligence.

View More Highlights:

Predictions Panel

In a bid to consolidate over 50 individual sessions on navigating Africa’s digital landscape, we gathered our panel of experts to discuss the outcomes of the event and deduce what they think the future might hold. Our panel concluded 11 predictions that they believed we would see come true in the next 12 months in the continent.

View Predictions

Notable Outcomes and Action Points from Mobile for Development

Mobile for Development is a dedicated global team within the GSMA, which brings together our operator members, tech innovators, the development community and governments, to prove the power of mobile in emerging markets. Mobile for Development ran a series of sessions and workshops exploring how innovative mobile technologies are having a positive social impact in Africa and beyond.

Africa Post Event Highlights

Connected Society

The Connected Society launched the following reports, and premiered the following videos:

  • Mobile connectivity Index: The GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index measures the performance of 150 countries against four key enablers of mobile internet connectivity – infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and content relevance. This web tool allows you to explore the data used in the Index and compare countries across all metrics.
  • Digital Inclusion Innovation Portal: The GSMA recently launched the Digital Inclusion Innovation Portal, a unique platform to discover and track technological and strategic innovation within mobile internet connectivity, affordability and accessibility that are taking place across these markets.
  • SSA Taxation report – The report provides an overview of the tax and fee regime applied to mobile services and its impact on affordability and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. It explores how mobile sector taxation can raise the affordability barrier in the region, undermining digital inclusion efforts. It also discusses how uncertain and complex taxation regimes affect operators’ ability to invest in infrastructure rollout.
  • Handset Affordability report – Our latest research report from the Connected Society & Connected Women programmes to find out how to make smartphones affordable to low-income groups.
  • Video: Airtel, Tigo and Vodacom join forces to connect the unconnected in rural Tanzania.
    In order to tangibly support its over 800 members in addressing the 3G coverage challenge, the GSMA in partnership with local operators, is developing and testing innovative solutions for efficient and commercially sustainable coverage. In 2015, Tanzania was selected as the first pilot market for pan-industrial collaboration by committing three major operators (Airtel, Tigo and Vodacom) and three vendors (Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia) to agree to explore how to reach the nations rural unconnected 13 million citizens.
  • Video: Social Impact From Rural Connectivity
    This video demonstrates the social benefits of the first tri-party national roaming pilot in rural Tanzania.
Connected Woman

GSMA announced five new signatories to the Connected Women Commitment Initiative during Mobile 360 – Africa. EconetLeo, Orange Cote d’Ivoire, Safaricom Ltd. Kenya, Telenor Pakistan and Vodacom Tanzania join with other mobile operators in committing to reduce their gender gap in mobile internet and/or mobile money services in low- and middle-income countries by 2020.

Digital Identity
  • The Digital Identity programme hosted a titled Digital Identity: Closing the Gap Through The Power of Mobile. The session was led by presentations from the World Bank, Gravity – a mobile identity solution provider, and the GSMA.
  • The session provided an update on mandatory SIM registration, which requires consumers to present proof of identity in order to activate a prepaid mobile SIM card. Since the publication of the GSMA’s white paper on The Mandatory Registration of Prepaid SIM Card Users, the number of countries mandating prepaid SIM registration across the world has risen to at least 135. Forty-nine of these are located in Africa. Yet, since identification remains low throughout the continent, the discussion touched on the challenges to consumers who wish to register their SIM cards but may lack the necessary identification.
Disaster Response
  • The Disaster Response programme launched a new report documenting the socio-economic impact of mobile connectivity for refugees in Nyarugusu camp in Tanzania. This is the first, large-scale end user research study we have conducted, alongside UNHCR, to provide robust evidence of the current use, value and impact of connectivity, and the barriers and challenges that refugees face in accessing and using mobile devices, in a large, rural camp setting. This research provides mobile network operators (MNOs), humanitarian agencies and governments with key insights on the opportunities and barriers to enhancing the provision of mobile services to refugees.
  • The report was released alongside a video case study showcasing the ways that one particular refugee uses his phone to enhance his life on a typical day.


Ecosystem Accelerator
  • The Ecosystem Accelerator programme held a bootcamp for our nine Innovation Fund portfolio start-ups consisting of expert presentations, workshops and networking sessions. 
  • Mobile technology continues to play a key role in driving innovation across multiple sectors in Africa including education, agriculture, health, and energy. A handful of our innovation fund portfolio start-ups pitched their businesses on the main stage of the conference.
  • One of our start-ups, Twiga Foods from Kenya, provides improved market access to farmers by buying fresh produce from them and also ensures a constant hassle-free supply chain to roadside vendors. Mobile technology enables them to pay farmers in a timely way through mobile money and monitor produce throughout the supply chain.  In one of the panel sessions Strive Masiyiwa, the Founder and Chairman of Econet Wireless, described Twiga Foods as the “the Alibaba of bananas in Africa”.

The mAgri programme debuted the activity, results and outcomes from the work they have done during their DFID grant with six operators to build scalable, engaging mobile solutions for agriculture. In their comprehensive report, launched at Mobile 360 – Africa, they outline the structure of the global and local teams required to build quality products, and how products can be monetised to sustain themselves. The global report and six case studies reveal how these services have created unprecedented (in our experience) levels of engagement (60% of all users who have ever registered were active in December 2016) by providing quality services, and how those services have positive impact on the lives of the end-users, improving customer loyalty.

  • The mHealth programme launched the mHealth Design Toolkit. Developed in partnership with frog, the mHealth Design Toolkit provides guidance on how to bring end-users into service development process, helping mHealth providers to build services that truly resonate with their end-users.
  • Sharing the toolkit externally with all relevant audiences and organisations so that they can use the ten principles it contains to help with any mHealth service design work.
Mobile Money
  • GSMA Mobile Money hosted the Mobile Money Global Event on the third day of Mobile 360 – Africa, welcoming over 400 mobile money thought leaders, industry stakeholders and policymakers to discuss how the industry of tomorrow will push the frontier and continue to meet the needs of underserved customers. Policy expectations were shared, disruptive new players identified and key factors in the industry’s growth trajectory debated by panellists and participating audience members.
  • As part of M360-Africa, GSMA Mobile Money released our latest report on The State of Mobile Money in Sub-Saharan Africa – 2016, exploring the growth of mobile money in the region over the last decade.
  • GSMA Mobile Money held a full-attendence workshop on ‘Advocating for mobile money international remittances’ exploring the role of mobile money remittances in putting more money in the hands of families and furthering progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Attendees of the workshop included development professionals, regulators, central banks and investors. Discussions and agreed outcomes focused on deepening collaboration between industry stakeholders, the role of interoperability in reducing costs, and means of increasing corridors to accelerate financial inclusion.
  • GSMA Mobile Money hosted the second Mobile Money Hackathon in Dar es Salaam, in conjunction with Airtel Tanzania and Mahindra Comviva. Fifteen competing teams comprising start-ups, banks, aggregators, and payments switches spent the weekend building and testing solutions for harmonised mobile money API use cases. The first place team was ‘RuPesa’, comprising team members from Phinix Ltd and Somaapp, winning two all-expenses-paid tickets to Mobile World Congress 2018.
  • The M4D Utilities programme launched the Mobile for Energy Access Campaign to strive towards SDG 7: universal energy access by 2030. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the crucial role that the mobile industry plays in bringing clean and affordable energy to the 1.2 billion people who currently lack energy access. Reliable energy is essential to the wellbeing of individuals and to the economic growth of their communities.
  • As part of a new campaign, the Mobile for Development Utilities published the first case study video in a series that supports the initiative. In Uganda, the innovative partnership between Fenix and MTN Uganda is improving energy access for 700,000 people. This video explores the how the mobile industry has unlocked the potential of the pay as you go model for solar energy, and impacted unique human stories.
  • M4D Utilities will continuing to support the initiative with further videos and content exploring this key issue and helping to highlight the real power of mobile to improve access to energy.