Paper

Digital Solutions for the Urban Poor

Can mobile-enabled innovations provide solutions to pressing challenges facing the urban poor?

Two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, with most urban growth concentrated in Africa and Asia. This poses challenges to basic service provision as city authorities and utilities struggle to meet the demands of rapidly growing urban populations. Unless city authorities and utilities find innovative ways to include informal settlements in service provision, water shortages, lack of sanitation, unreliable power and insufficient waste management will remain a reality for most of the urban poor.

Mobile-enabled digital solutions are uniquely placed to address these challenges. The expansion of mobile connectivity and mobile-enabled innovations in developing countries has enabled the proliferation of digital solutions that can make vital basic services more accessible and affordable. The spread of mobile money throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, and increasingly Asia, is enabling innovative business models like pay-as-you-go (PAYG) to make otherwise unattainable goods and services accessible to low-income populations.

This report explores the potential for these mobile-enabled innovations to provide solutions to pressing challenges facing the urban poor.