The GSMA has launched a new Innovation Fund for Rural Connectivity, aimed at expanding digital inclusion through innovative new technology solutions for connecting unserved rural communities.
The fund, backed by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by the GSMA, will provide grants up to GBP300,000 (US$390,000) and is open to eligible companies who can deploy solutions in Uganda or Ghana, in partnership with MTN Uganda and Vodafone Ghana respectively.
Funded projects will test innovative ways to deploy mobile broadband networks in rural areas, looking to demonstrate commercially sustainable models that can be scaled and replicated in similar environments.
“Mobile operators are committed to advancing connectivity in rural areas as they work to deliver commercially sustainable solutions to accelerate progress against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said John Giusti, chief regulatory officer at the GSMA.
“The Innovation Fund for Rural Connectivity will drive partnerships aimed at developing new ways of using mobile technologies to close coverage gaps in rural areas so that more citizens have access to life-enhancing mobile services.”
Successful grantees and their partners will receive advice and guidance from the GSMA, including analytical support to identify commercially viable sites for deployment, and full technical and commercial performance reports. Applications will need to focus on at least one of the following areas: active base station technology; passive infrastructure; energy; backhaul; operation and maintenance; or sustainable business models.