New Delhi: India’s smartphone base is estimated to reach 820 million in the next two years, which can unlock 80% improvement in efficiency and 8 times reduction in processing time for e-governance services, a new study said.According to a report jointly released by Indian Cellular and Electronics Association and consulting firm KPMG, rural India witnessed a year-on-year growth of 35% in 2018 as opposed to 7% growth in urban India in the same period in terms of internet users. Smartphone penetration in rural India has risen from 9% in 2015 to 25% in 2018.As a result of increased digital inclusion there are currently more than 300 government apps, which are facilitating essential citizen services, including information dissemination, direct benefit transfers, education and healthcare, the report said.“Smartphones have facilitated access to a rapidly expanding range of digitally delivered services through Apps like Umang, Digilocker and Bhim and also through mobile friendly websites. Smartphones are essential components for delivery and improving the effectiveness of e-governance initiatives,” said Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, MEITY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) at the launch of the report on Thursday.Smartphones have also been vital to the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, enabling the government to reach citizens across the country through apps like Aarogya Setu, which has more than 13 crore downloads and is available in 12 Indian languages, Sawhney added.“India is home to the world’s largest digital literacy programme, Pradhan Mantri Grameen Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PGMDISHA) whose objective is to train 6 crore rural adults.,” the report said. E-Kranti, one of the initiatives under Digital India, provides electronic access to services related to agriculture, health, education, passports, etc. via smartphones.“The prevalence of Open OS in smartphones has greatly facilitated the inclusion of vernacular languages and reduced the time taken to build supporting mobile applications.” said Pankaj Mohindroo, Chairman, ICEA which represents smartphone brands such as Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi, Apple and Micromax.The study found that rural regions spend almost the same percentage of their budget (25 per cent) on mobile phones as urban residents (26 per cent).