The Mobile Economy Latin America and the Caribbean 2017 claims, "By 2020 the region will have an adoption rate of 71%, ahead of the global average of 66%. This translates into an additional 171 million new smartphone users across the region by the end of the decade."
The report encouragingly says the mobile ecosystem is a major contributor to the regional economy. "In 2016, mobile technologies and services generated 5% of GDP in Latin America, a contribution that amounted to $260 billion of economic value added. In the period to 2020, this will increase to $320 billion (5.6% of GDP), as the region experiences strong growth in productivity brought about by continued adoption of mobile internet."
Furthermore, "The mobile ecosystem supported 1.7 million jobs in 2016. This includes workers directly employed by mobile operators and the ecosystem, and jobs that are indirectly supported in the rest of the economy by the activity generated by the sector. The sector also makes an important contribution to the funding of the public sector, with almost $35 billion raised in 2016 – mainly in the form of general taxation, including VAT, corporate taxes and employment taxes."
Based on my experiences of working in the region, the report correctly notes, "Latin America boasts some of the most advanced mobile internet users globally. ... Combined with Latin America's rising smartphone adoption and 4G usage, the mobile ecosystem provides a large, scalable platform for entrepreneurs and innovators." What is more, "With nearly 350 million mobile internet subscribers currently, and 420 million by 2020, the Latin American market is larger than the US and in 2020 will rival the EU in size."
With respect to mobile's role in addressing social challenges, the report disappointingly explains,
Despite progress made to date, still too many people across Latin America and the Caribbean are digitally excluded. By 2020, nearly 250 million will remain excluded; these are predominantly in rural areas, in lower income classes and more likely to be women. The mobile ecosystem must address challenges and perceptions around safety and security if it is to connect these people, as well as tackle a lack of digital skills and affordability challenges.On the topic of regulatory reform, the report accurately says, "The converging digital ecosystem is highly dynamic, fast-paced and modular. Rising consumer demand for data requires new technologies and significant investment. At the same time, the industry is moving forward to connect the unconnected and serve the nascent Internet of Things (IoT) sector. This all poses regulatory and policy challenges for both the current and future digital ecosystem. With that in mind, policymakers must seek to support and enable the digital ecosystem."
|Infographic: GSMA Intelligence|