By Martin Ekpeke
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has estimated that connecting the next 1.5 billion people globally, most of whom lives in the rural and remote areas will cost a whopping $450 billion.
The ITU stated this in its latest report, where it noted that the challenge of connecting people living in rural and remote areas to the Internet persists in many countries.
“The scale of the infrastructure that must be built or upgraded to bridge the digital divide and deploy emerging technologies is considerable – last year, ITU estimated that connecting the next 1.5 billion people will cost USD 450 billion,” the report quoted Mr Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
ITU believes that to accelerate the achievement of all United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, “4 I’s, which are Infrastructure, Investment, Innovation and Inclusivity, according to ITU are central to its strategy to leverage the power of ICTs to expand access to broadband services.
While the report demonstrates the value of Internet connectivity in today’s increasingly digital world, it also raises concerns for the growing inequalities in access to broadband and how connectivity is used within and between countries, sexes and regions. “Today, almost half of the world’s people use the Internet, mostly in urban and densely populated areas,” it added.
The report also highlights the impact of rapidly evolving communication and information technologies (ICTs), including the implications of emerging trends like the Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. Advances in mobile broadband (such as 4G and 5G) and next-generation satellite technologies will mean the delivery of digital services more quickly and reliably, with implications for the future of agriculture, climate, disaster relief, education, health and transportation.