The Mobile Economy-Latin America report by GSMA
<www.linkedin.com/company/gsma/> is out. Some of the key findings
include:
1. At the end of 2021, 60% (approximately 380 million people) of the
population in Latin America was using mobile broadband services.
2. 36% of the population live within mobile broadband network coverage
areas, but do not use mobile internet services (36% usage gap).
The mobile usage gap is estimated at 61% in Africa according to GSMA, see
here
<www.connectingafrica.com/author.asp?section_id=761&doc_id=781406#:~:text=%22In%20Africa%2017%25%20is%20the,mobile%20Internet%2C%22%20he%20added.>.
The reasons behind usage gaps do not differ much from one region to another.
There are a number of assumptions that can be made to explain the mobile
broadband usage gap. Bearing in mind that smartphones are the main access
modes to broadband services, the aspect of this population using other
alternative broadband services may not be the reason. This is because even
when using other broadband services such as fixed wireless (WiFi), you
will, at some point, use the mobile broadband services, provided you have a
smartphone.
In my opinion, the affordability of services and devices together with
digital skills are the main causes of the usage gap. These people living
within coverage areas and not using the services are either not able to
afford the services and devices, or simply do not possess the basic
knowledge and digital skills needed to use the services. We have a long way
to go in addressing affordability, especially in the mobile services industry.
It is high time governments become intentional in ensuring that people have
access to affordable devices (for instance through tax-free/low tax for the
importation of such devices), as well as access to affordable broadband
services.
Community networks are proving to be one way of getting affordable
broadband services to the marginalized low-income population. More support
is needed to ensure that community networks are empowered to deliver
low-cost connectivity solutions to help bridge the digital divide. Digital
upskilling, in equal measure, is required, especially in marginalized
communities. Extending connectivity services to people who cannot afford
the services, or do not have the skills to use the services would simply
amount to a wasted investment.

Kisundu Nicholas N,
Digital Inclusion| ICT Policy,
+254712770655

LinkedIn Profile
<www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-kisundu-28933482/>