Will 5G help in meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals?

SDG Impact Scores 2018 of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) shows scores have increased in the band of 0.4 to 2.9 in 2017. 5G being a new technology should focus on rural models and affordability in the areas of health, education, climate action and partnerships for increasing scores

Let’s look at global statistics related to mobile. Mobile money accounts have reached 700 million at the end of 2017. 750,000 education-related apps are available on smartphones, up 62 per cent from 2015, resulting in 1.2 billion people using mobile to improve their education. In the last three years, around 1 million households have installed installed solar home systems using a mobile-enabled pay-as you-go model for clean and affordable access to electricity. Around 5 million people are using mobile-enabled agricultural services supported by the GSMA’s mNutrition Initiative for improving agricultural productivity and incomes.

More than 5 billion people are connected to a mobile network which is roughly two-thirds of the world’s population, up from 4.6 billion at the end of 2015, which means that the industry has added more than 400 million unique mobile subscribers over this period. Almost 600 million additional people, the vast majority from low- and middle-income countries, have begun using mobile internet services since 2015, bringing the total to 3.3 billion at the end of 2017. By the end of this decade, it is forecast that half of the world’s population will be accessing the internet via their phones, up from 36 per cent in 2015.

This has led to increase in SDG Impact Scores for all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals but this is not enough and the industry, government and academia needs to come out with affordable 5G technologies which will help meet the UN SDG by 2030. The focus should be on rural models and affordability so that Internet penetration reaches to roughly three-fourth of the world’s population. Once the Internet penetration increases among rural masses, the government, industry and NGO community can work collectively to meet SDG goals.

5G technology will definitely help in increasing SDG impact scores for good health and well being, quality education, gender equality, industry innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, climate action and partnerships for the goals. For rest of the SDGs, it would require a sustained effort from all stakeholders but even in this case, 5G can act as a basic infrastructure on which other capabilities will be build upon to meet UN SDG.

“More than two-thirds of the people on the planet are now connected to a mobile network and, for many, mobile is the primary – sometimes only – channel for accessing the internet and life-enhancing services,” commented Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA.

The report reiterates how mobile industry is playing a central role in accelerating delivery of the SDGs and leveraging the power of mobile networks and services to transform lives around the world said Granryd.

Sustainable Development Goals – SDG Impact Scores 2018:

  • SDG 1 (No Poverty) – 41.5
  • SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) – 37.3
  • SDG 3 (Good Health & Well Being) – 40.8
  • SDG 4 (Quality Education) – 48.2
  • SDG 5 (Gender Equality) – 41.0
  • SDG 6 (Clean Water & Sanitation) – 40.7
  • SDG 7 (Affordable Clean Energy) – 39.6
  • SDG 8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth) – 38.6
  • SDG 9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure) – 51.0
  • SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) – 39.1
  • SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) – 46.5
  • SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) – 37.3
  • SDG 13 (Climate Action) – 46.9
  • SDG 14 (Life Below Water) – 19.4
  • SDG 15 (Life on Land) – 45.6
  • SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) – 34.3
  • SDG 17 (Partnerships for the goals) – 34.7

Source: 2018 Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals

“We must continue to develop initiatives that connect the unconnected and drive mobile internet adoption, while scaling up the mobile-enabled products and services that are providing real-world solutions to developmental challenges,” added Granryd.


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