SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Why it matters

SDG 9 aims to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation. It also seeks universal and affordable access to the internet in the least developed countries.

The industry’s contribution

SDG Target 9.c aims to significantly increase access to information and communications technology. At the end of 2022, 4.5 billion people (57% of the global population) were using mobile internet, an increase of 1.9 billion since 2015. Mobile internet enables individuals to access an array of life-enhancing services; however, 5% of the world’s population still live in areas without mobile broadband coverage, meaning that 400 million people are still not covered by a mobile broadband network. Moreover, the usage gap stood at 38% (3 billion people) in 2022.[39]

In addition to mobile internet, the mobile industry supports progress on SDG 9 by building resilient infrastructure and improving industrial processes. Technologies such as 5G, IoT, cloud computing and AI can play a significant role in enterprise digital transformation across a range of sectors, such as manufacturing and logistics. This can lead to a range of improved business outcomes, such as productivity gains, cost savings and new revenue streams.[40]

In many LMICs, mobile connectivity (i.e. 2G/3G/4G) also provides critical infrastructure and a platform that allows micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises to grow by reaching bigger markets. Growth in mobile internet adoption and an increase of mobile money adoption were identified as key ecosystem enablers for scaling digital innovation in LMICS across a number of sectors.[41]

SDG 9 mobile impact score

No Data Found

Source: GSMA Intelligence

Maximising mobile’s impact by 2030

Reaching the remaining 400 million people who are not covered by mobile broadband in a commercially sustainable manner will require the cost of network deployment to be reduced. Innovations in backhaul, low-cost base station technologies and power supply are already helping to achieve this.[42] However, an enabling policy environment that reduces cost and uncertainty around spectrum allocations, licensing, tax policy and network deployment is also necessary.[43]

Moreover, the usage gap shows that closing the coverage gap alone is not going to be enough to connect the unconnected. Addressing other barriers such as affordability, digital skills, relevance, and safety and security will be critical to maximising the industry’s impact on SDG 9.

Case Studies

END USER STORY | Mobile internet

GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion

In this video we hear from some of the end users who are benefitting from these start-ups’ incredible projects, whether through increased access to smartphones, relevant products and digital skills, access to quality digital learning products, or help with bringing their small businesses online.
If Ensibuuko hadn't digitised our group, we would lose our savings just like that and if we were not given a smartphone, we wouldn't have access to Ensibuuko's digital loans. Digitalisation opened up my mind to new business ideas. It has exposed me to different apps that I enjoy and I also have access to marketplaces."
Monica Ojogaru
Case Study

Telstra funds research to accelerate digital inclusion in remote Australia


While most Australian cities enjoy excellent internet access, there remains a broad ‘digital gap’ between urban and regional areas, which is even more pronounced in the country’s 1,100 First Nations remote communities. The latest Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) and Mapping the Digital Gap (MTDG) data confirms that while digital ability is relatively high across the MTDG sample of remote First Nations communities, access and affordability remain low. The same data shows that 86% of First Nations people primarily use mobile phones for calls and internet use, 90% of whom are using prepaid services.


Since 2015, the ADII has provided an annual scorecard of digital inclusion across Australia, through three lenses: affordability, access and digital ability. In 2023, for the first time, the ADII – which is a collaboration between Telstra and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society – is incorporating the initial findings of a four-year project in 11 remote communities. The findings present a compelling picture of how infrastructure, affordability of services and unstable income keep thousands of people disconnected from essential services. In addition to providing unprecedented data for policymakers and the industry, the project supports communities to develop local ‘Digital Inclusion Plans’ with community-led strategies to address identified challenges.


MTDG is a critical piece of research that will back decades of research, trials and programmes to improve digital literacy and digital inclusion for Australia’s remote communities. This year, the Australian government established a First Nations Digital Inclusion Advisory Group (with an MTDG member co-chairing), and in April announced an additional $25 million for First Nations communities through its Regional Connectivity Program. This has led to proposals for more community mentors, alternative digital solutions, digital training and free public Wi-Fi. Telstra has also made all its public telephones free.

When you bring the power of technology together with the will to want to change the world, we can absolutely look forward to a brighter and more sustainable future."
Vicki Brady, CEO, Telstra
Case Study

Telefónica brings sustainability to digital solutions innovation


Companies need to extend ESG throughout their value chain to contribute to building a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable economic paradigm.


Telefónica has developed an internal voluntary framework called ‘Responsibility by Design’ to incorporate ethical and sustainability principles from the beginning of development of a new product or service through to its delivery to the customer.

Telefónica has developed an internal voluntary framework called ‘Responsibility by Design’ to incorporate ethical and sustainability principles from the beginning of development of a new product or service through to its delivery to the customer. It also helps Telefónica to be certain that the product or service complies with the operator’s ‘Responsible Business Principles’.

The framework is based on two pillars. The first is sustainability being applied to design, which relates to the impact that Telefónica’s products and services have on people and the environment. The second is design ethics – in other words, its commitment to the customer and use of data and AI. All of the products and services under this framework are based on low-carbon connectivity.

This is a cross-cutting project involving the entire company, representing a cultural change and a transformation of the entire organisation to reshape how Telefónica innovates and develops new digital solutions. This has led to the need to provide training to all areas of the company to emphasise the importance of eco-design, accessibility, transparency, and digital rights and ethics, among other aspects.


In 2022, Telefónica assessed the sustainability of over 40 products and services under this framework. Its goal is to further integrate the ‘Responsibility by Design’ framework to have 100% of its solutions assessed by 2025.