The Mobile World Congress is taking place this week, March 2-5, in Spain. Thousands (in 2014 it was 85,000) from around the world are meeting to talk and learn about industry trends, cutting edge technology, new gadget releases, and what’s going on in Mobile around the globe. For those of us who are passionate about mobile for development, there was a lot said as well. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned the heat up during his keynote speech on Monday, where he reaffirmed that he’s “really serious” about bringing the internet to the 60% of the world currently offline, and he wants to do it with mobile.
GSMA, mobile industry leader and organizer of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), has a Mobile for Development division that promotes mobile services for underserved people in emerging markets. GSMA Mobile for Development is holding workshops all week to discuss the successes, challenges, and innovations in M4D (mobile for development). Workshops include: digital inclusion – the challenges and solutions to mobile internet access in emerging markets; M4D business models; mobile for disaster response; mobile money – one of the most prominent M4D sectors with 256 services currently live in 89 markets!; advancing mobile enabled utility services; mobile access for women; and mobile for agriculture (mAgri).
Although a lot of the conversation at MWC is focused on mobile internet – and the tension between Facebook and Google’s push to provide basic internet to everyone in the world for free, and the telecom operators who are skeptical of that plan – there’s still a long way to go in terms of providing access marginalized communities. And until that happens, we’re especially excited about the great work going on in the realm of no-internet-needed mobile projects!
One such project is TabangKO, which won the MWC’s Global Mobile Award 2015 for Best Use of Mobile in Emergency or Humanitarian Situations. Mercy Corps and BPI Globe Banko partnered to run TabangKO, a project in the Philippines which provided emergency electronic cash transfers to survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Our warmest congratulations goes to our friends at Mercy Corps & BPI Globe BanKO who ran this amazing project! The life-changing work they did is more important than any award, but we’re quite proud of them all the same, and also glad they could showcase some of the great work going on here in the Philippines in the realms of mobile and technology for development.
The MWC ends Thursday, March 5. But the mobile revolution continues year round, and we are excited to be a part of it!