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UK government and GSMA team up to fight poverty with mobile tech

The Department for International Development is funding a project by mobile operator group GSM Association (GSMA) that uses mobile technology to help people in developing countries

The Department for International Development (DFID) has partnered with mobile operator association GSMA to use mobile technology to improve the quality of life for people living in extreme poverty.

DFID is funding GSMA to develop and roll out mobile technology that will improve response to natural disasters, access to safe water and help women access financial services.

The government said the partnership will help tackle extreme poverty and gender inequality, and “promote decent work and economic growth, innovation and infrastructure”.

International development minister Nick Hurd said the UK has been “at the forefront of bringing the battle against extreme poverty into the digital era” for the last 10 years.

“With more people in developing countries using mobiles than ever before, this partnership with the GSMA and its members will increase access to banking services, especially for women, bring access to energy to many for the first time and even vital health information,” he said.

“We have a real opportunity to accelerate the development of mobile technologies that can save lives, help women reach their potential and boost the growth of emerging economies for Britain to trade with.”

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DFID and GSMA have partnered on several projects to develop and deliver mobile solutions for people in developing countries over the last three years, including the ReadyPay Solar project in Uganda, which allows people to pay for solar electricity in their homes using a mobile phone.

Other supported projects include introducing SweetSense sensors in Rwanda, which improve access to clean water by installing mobile-enabled sensors inside water pumps. The sensors can send alerts to maintenance staff should a pump stop working, allowing repairs to be carried out immediately.

At Mobile World Congress earlier this week, GSMA also renewed its commitment to enable more women to access mobile technology and services, in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to achieve gender equality and empowerment.

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