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Media (R)evolutions: Mobile Attracts ICT Start-ups and Entrepreneurship

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

The increasing penetration of mobile services and mobile internet is opening up opportunities for innovation, especially in emerging markets. This can be seen in the health sector, financial services, and many other fields, where ICT start-ups and small and medium enterprise (SMEs) are working with mobile services to create business and jobs. The World Bank reports that "9 out of 10 jobs in developing economies" come from the private sector, and that "The main thrust of that comes from micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, especially in technology sectors—a recent study argues that 3 jobs are created in a community for every new high-tech job." 

The following graph shows the distribution of ICT start-ups and SMEs in relation to the number of mobile subscribers. In developed countries, technology firms and internet providers have been at the forefront of innovation, but in emerging markets mobile operators are increasingly leading the way.


Mobile start-ups and SMEs in South Asia and Africa more or less equate with mobile subscribers, with key technology and innovation centers in Bangalore, Colombo and Nairobi, and others.  China has largely driven East Asia’s growth as it benefits from the rise in smartphone penetration (now just under 40%) as well as as digital commerce and social activity. In Latin America, a large amount of investment (particularly from Europe) relative to the size of its mobile market has occurred.

Source: "Financing Innovation," July 2014 by GSMA, Figure 3

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