Closing the Access Gap: Innovation to Accelerate Universal Internet Adoption

The Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) commissioned this paper from Caribou Space to understand potential business model and technology innovations for accelerating access and adoption of mobile phones and the internet in emerging markets and inform the development community of innovations underway, as well as lessons emerging from these efforts. 

As governments, donors, think tanks, and others try to understand how to achieve the SDGs, a significant body of work on barriers and progress toward internet access and adoption is expanding. Questions examined include: 

• Are these innovations purely operating at the margins, or might some have the potential to disrupt traditional business models? 

• What role do such innovations play in a strategy to achieve broader access and adoption within an emerging market? 

• What is required to foster a more enabling environment for promising access and adoption innovations? 

The analysis suggests that although a “silver bullet” is unlikely to emerge, there is a clear role for business model and technology innovation, and the financing mechanisms to support such developments. The analysis also suggests that although a good deal of government, industry, and development community activity is underway, independent, uncoordinated actions are unlikely to succeed in solving this development challenge. Instead, coordinated collective action is needed. Working together, the global community can make “universal and affordable access to the internet in least developed countries” a reality.