Telenor is committed to help world leaders achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Harnessing mobile for sustainable development involves applying innovation, resources and expertise to pursue the business opportunities inherent in building a greener, more equitable and inclusive society. At Telenor, research is instrumental in helping the company gain insights and competencies in order to connect its customers to what matters most in their lives. This ambition also has a sustainability dimension. Research into using big datasets – the information flow from digital communications analysis – has the potential to provide important insights that can help tackle socio-economic challenges, such as the early identification and prevention of diseases.
Digital birth registration:
There are approximately 60 million people in Pakistan who are “invisible”. They were not registered at birth and they lack an official form of identification. The problem of low birth registration rates in Pakistan is due to a combination of social and economic factors. In many areas, registering a birth can be difficult, in some cases nearly impossible – especially for children born at home, in remote locations, or in displacement. Telenor, UNICEF and government authorities have been working together to improve the birth registration rates using mobile technology in Pakistan. By December 2018, the project had registered 587,000 girls and boys in five districts of Pakistan. The project could not meet the target of 700,000 registrations, given difficulties experienced in capacity building, network availability in government selected areas and process delays.
A mobile app in the hands of registering staff can help reduce inequalities through universal birth registration. That is the aim of Telenor and UNICEF Myanmar’s Mobile Birth and Death Registration initiative, which was launched in August 2018. Endorsed by the Government of Myanmar, the pilot in Mon State will allow midwives to enter birth and death registration on a smartphone application.
Telenor has financial services operations in Pakistan and Myanmar, called Easypaisa and Wave Money respectively. Both of these operations are aimed towards the mass market. In Malaysia, Valyou serves the niche segment of migrants. Easypaisa is supporting the Benazir Income Support Programme that provides income support to underprivileged families. The female recipients are provided with a monthly disbursement and the beneficiaries use mobile phones to cash out their benefits via a mobile money agent. The programme focuses on empowerment of women to ensure provision and family subsistence. Easypaisa currently distributes funds to approximately 1.2 million beneficiaries under this programme.
Tonic is a subscription healthcare service in Bangladesh that leverages mobile technology to help make quality healthcare more accessible. It has three main components that are bundled together into an integrated offering: health insurance, primary care, and health information. The service was launched by Grameenphone and Telenor Health in June 2016 and now has more than five million customers. Globally, 120 million families are pushed into poverty each year due to healthcare costs, with low income people having the most to lose from a lack of social protection for health. Tonic Doctor has helped to address this by providing over 300,000 quality primary care consultations since the start in 2016 – using mobile technology to reach the disadvantaged segments.
Big data for social good:
In 2015, Telenor published a study from Pakistan in which big datasets were used to map the spread of dengue fever and the impact of human mobility. Building on this work of mining big data for social good, Telenor Group has extended its collaboration with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Throughout 2018 research has continued on our three-country malaria study of the spread of malaria using mobility data. Progress has been made on the Bangladesh and Thailand studies, whilst work on the Myanmar study is yet to begin