New Telenor Group-commissioned report outlines impact of telecommunications on Asia

(Singapore, 20 March 2019) A new connectivity report by Frontier Economics found that sectors driven by telecommunications contributed almost three quarters to economic growth in markets across Telenor’s Asia footprint.

Published: 19 March 2019 15:14

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Titled “The Mobile Effect: How Connectivity Enables Growth”, the study commissioned by Telenor Group quantifies impact of the telecommunications sector on the economies in the five Asian countries where Telenor Group operates – Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.

“As an important enabler of economic activity, telecommunications has substantially improved business efficiency, accelerated innovation and led to the establishment of markets for new products and services. Our analysis shows that sectors which use telecommunications services more intensively contribute between 65 to 75% of total economic value to the markets across Telenor’s Asian footprint, and that these sectors have been growing strongly at between 6 to 12% per year. This shows the impact of Telenor Group’s investments in Asia in supporting and enabling growth in the countries where it operates,” said Clive Kenny, Senior Economic Consultant (Telecommunications) from the research team at Frontier Economics.

Growth areas to watch

The study also reveals that telco-intensive sectors generally contribute a greater proportion to economic growth than others. These sectors include financial services, retail and wholesale trade, education and health, and transport.

As a start, the use of telecommunications in the delivery of healthcare can be powerful. In many Asian markets, the cost of delivering healthcare can be staggering. The report uncovers that the use of mobile health services, such as Tonic in Bangladesh, can substantially improve health outcomes which has impact on the larger economy – by boosting labour productivity.

Mobile financial services are also on the rise in Asia. This has resulted in a reduction in the urban-rural financial inclusion divide. For example, in Myanmar there are 4.7 bank outlets per 100,000 people, as compared to global average of 10 outlets per 100,000. Offering financial services via the mobile can make significant steps in closing this gap, as evident from the success of Wave Money, a partnership between Telenor Group and Yoma Bank. In 2018, the total volume of transfers via Wave Money’s mobile money service contributed approximately 2% to Myanmar’s GDP.

Telenor’s contribution to Asia

Present in Asia for more than 20 years, Telenor connects 166 million people and brought USD$4.3 billion in economic value to its Asian markets in 2017. Meeting these connectivity demands requires significant investment, especially in networks, from the telecommunications players across Asia. From 2014 to 2017, Telenor invested USD$6.2 billion in its five Asian markets, making the company one of the top three foreign investors.

“Connectivity has made the world smaller and opportunities bigger. It can play a key role in reducing inequalities. For many citizens across Asia, mobile is their primary connection to the world, driving social interactions and new business opportunities,” said Sigve Brekke, President and CEO of Telenor Group.

He added, “The most productive sectors of society are enabled by mobile technologies. This is especially important in Asia where most countries are mobile-first. As telecoms companies, we have a deep connection with the countries we serve, and we are committed to supporting economic growth. While we have made significant progress over the past decades, the full potential of mobile in enabling the broader economy has yet to be unlocked. To get there, leaders, businesses and citizens must collaborate to create a dynamic ecosystem that is able to keep up with the pace of digitalisation and technological change.”

Learn more about the connectivity impact on Asia. Find the full report here.

About the Frontier Report for Telenor Group

The Frontier Report analyses the economic impact of the telecommunications sector in the five Asian countries where Telenor operates. The findings show the direct contribution that Telenor has on these economies in creating, producing and supplying telecommunications services. The report also assesses the impact of investments in telecommunications on productivity, telecommunication’s role in enabling economic activity in downstream markets, as well as in the supply of social goods and achieving social benefits.