Telecom industry group GSMA announced on Wednesday a global coalition of companies, organisations and financial institutions that will seek to make smartphones more accessible and affordable for some of the world's poorest populations.

The coalition will consist of mobile operators and vendors, and global institutions such as the World Bank Group, the United Nations' agency ITU and the WEF Edison Alliance, the GSMA said in a statement.

They will assess ways to lower the cost of entry into the digital economy for low-income populations, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, it said.

"Handset affordability is often recognised as the most significant barrier to get people online," the GSMA said.

It said mobile is often the only way for people in low and middle income countries to access the internet, with 38% of the global population living in areas where they cannot use mobile internet due to barriers such as high cost and lack of skills.

"The coalition will collaborate to improve access to affordable internet-enabled devices to close the 'Usage Gap', which holds back around three billion people worldwide from maximising their potential in the global digital economy," it added.

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