Most of the world’s population lives in Asia and current growth trend indicates that the region will include an additional 1 billion people in ten years, mostly in South Asia. As the population growth is outpacing the expansion of the electricity grid and putting more pressure on already-overloaded piped water networks, providing universal access to electricity and clean water to this growing population is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. With mobile networks covering more than four out of five persons in Asia, mobile infrastructure is now reaching places not currently served by the national electricity grid. In South Asia, where 75% of the population has access to electricity and 87% of the population is covered by mobile networks, the gap between access to these two infrastructures has been widening since the early 2000s. Leveraging the ubiquity of mobile networks and growing mobile ownership among underserved populations, the GSMA’s Mobile Enabled Community Services Programme has been increasingly supporting the Asian mobile industry to help solve the challenges of extending and enhancing access to energy and water services. Beyond the language and cultural differences that can be a barrier for foreign entrepreneurs to conduct businesses in Asian countries, increasing opportunities exist for public and private parties to deliver energy or water services to underserved populations, based on five mobile channels: the telecom tower infrastructure, operators’ distribution networks, machine-to-machine communication, mobile payments and mobile services (SMS, USSD, Apps). The context appears very different in Asia compared to Africa in terms of how entrepreneurs and public bodies currently leverage these channels. The mobile telecom infrastructure and mobile services have already made in-ways to support and increase utility coverage, whereas distribution channels, mobile financial services and GSM machine-to-machine connectivity are still in very early phases of development.
This document presents a detailed approach to current mobile-enabled energy and water initiatives, business models and opportunities for the mobile sector.
Nique, M.; Jain, N. The Synergies Between Mobile, Energy and Water Access: Asia. (2014) 21 pp.