The speedy growth in mobile technology in the current time has a range of socioeconomic effects. It has helped to attract funding from the global community, which plays a major role in funding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says that approximately $135 billion is contributed by the global community every year for development assistance. The mobile infrastructure, mobile payments, mobile services and machine-to-machine connectivity is expected to help achieve the SDGs by 2030.
One of the socioeconomic impacts of mobile technology is enhancing access to water and sanitation. Greater access to mobile technology has led to increased access to such utilities, especially among the rural populations. Mobile technology has bridged the gap and is playing a major role in eradicating extreme poverty. The widespread availability of mobile phones has enabled the development of low-cost solutions aimed at improving water security and reducing poverty. Some countries are using mobile strategies such as supply mapping, smart-card tap system, and water management by SMS to help people get better access to water and sanitation.
Secondly, mobile technology allows inclusion, by guaranteeing universal internet access. The GSMA Connected Society is working to ensure greater connectivity and internet adoption by focusing on four enables: infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and content.
Furthermore, it is enhancing financial inclusion. Mobile technology has helped in banking people who lack access to formal financial institutions. The growth of mobile money agents, which reached 4.3 million in 2016, is good evidence. The agricultural sector has also benefited greatly through mobile money payments. International transfers of money have also lowered thanks to mobile money.
It is also worth noting that mobile technology has led to tremendous increase in messaging platforms. Most of them are messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which have attracted a large number of users. In 2016 for instance, approximately 3.6 billion people were using various platforms compared to 2.8 billion in 2015. Other innovative services include Airbnb, Uber and cloud computing. Investors have taken advantage of the digital revolution to benefit from the available opportunities.
Telecom companies are working together with tech startups. Mobile operators are also increasingly investing in developing markets to tap the ready market. The investment in 2015 was $3.2 billion, compared to $1.4 in 2014. This was a great increase from the $0.1 in 2010 and 0.4 in 2013. There is no doubt that investment in the telecom industry is growing at a high rate.
There is no doubt that the growth of mobile technology will affect regulations in different areas. The digital economy is complex and dynamic and as a result, regulation must be flexible. It also requires policy reforms where necessary. As a result, policymakers in various regions have initiated a revamp on how the industry administered. The European Commission is a good example which is revamping its telecom’s regulatory framework. The objective is to attain universal and high-speed connectivity in the European Union. Governments are also revamping their regulatory frameworks to ensure they reflect the industry growth and offer a firm foundation for future growth, competition, innovation and investment.
The digital economy has grown tremendously and is expected to accelerate going forward. The mobile ecosystem is expected to grow both in absolute and relative terms. It is projected to generate over $4.3 trillion or 4.9 percent of the growth domestic product by 2020. The growth is linked to productivity, especially in developed nations and it will be a result of mobile internet connectivity and adoption.