Action plan agreed for universal smartphone access

New report from the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development – Strategies Towards Universal Smartphone Access – identifies new interventions to help drive uptake of smartphones

Digital solutions are transforming the lives of individuals and communities across the world.  Despite the significant progress that has been made to get more people online, nearly 2.7 billion people – around a third of the global population – still cannot or do not have access the internet.

Having a smartphone is an increasingly essential necessity in today’s digital society, enabling communities’ access to agriculture, finance, education, health care and much more. However, we are still facing challenges- only 45% of adults in emerging economies own a smartphone, and worldwide 18% of women are less likely than men to own a smartphone.

The new report, ‘Strategies Towards Universal Smartphone Access’, found that limited affordability and availability of smartphones, along with low consumer confidence, in part due to a lack of basic digital skills, are limiting internet adoption.

The report, which took a year to research and write, identifies three interventions that will have the most immediate impact on smartphone adoption:

  • increased use by telecom operators of flexible device financing models;
  • reduced taxes and import duties; and
  • improved distribution models to make smartphones more accessible to rural communities.

Alongside these measures the report recommends further investigation into the use of device subsidies and the re-use of pre-owned smartphones.

The Broadband Commission will create taskforces to complete a five point action plan resulting from its findings:

  1. initiate win-win partnerships with players across the digital value chain;
  2. improve recycling regulation and develop quality standards for pre-owned smartphones;
  3. develop strategies for recycling of mid- and low-tier devices;
  4. explore the use of Universal Service Funds and other government subsidies; and
  5. further explore the economic benefits of reducing tax and import duties on smartphones.

Read the full report here: Strategies towards Universal Smartphone Access.

Read press release here.