Internet: World leaders advance effort to connect 3.8Bn unconnected people

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African IXP, Facebook, Paradigm Initiative, A4AI, ITU, Internet Society, Africa Economy, Nigeria
 

To accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, World Leaders through the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development are advancing efforts that’s critical to connecting the 3.8 billion people around the globe who still do not have access to the Internet.

The Global leaders who convene recently in New York City at the annual fall meeting of the United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, noted that broadband must be leveraged to accelerate the sustainable development goals.

The global group of key influencers and decision-makers met parallel to the 73rd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations also taking place in New York City. According to more than 60 participants from United Nations agencies, governments and the broadband industry, the 3.8 billion, representing the other half of the world’s population will be accommodated with broadband services.

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Connecting the “other half” of the world was a resounding call to action echoed by participants, including the Co-Chairs and Co-Vice Chairs of the Broadband Commission, H.E. President Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda.

He said: “We are preparing to mark a new milestone where half of the world’s people are accessing the Internet. While this growth is not spread evenly across the world’s regions, it is nonetheless an encouraging development. With more people online, we need to think through how everyone can access the digital content safely and fairly. To take full advantage of the latest technological innovations, we have to adapt rapidly, including more innovative approaches to policy and regulation. The best way to handle this is through close collaboration among the key stakeholders, from government, the private sector, and the research community.”

Mr Carlos Slim, President of the Carlos Slim Foundation, América Móvil and Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission, said: “Broadband is transforming all sectors and activities of our society. But many rural areas are still not connected to the Internet. Governments and regulators need to make universal connectivity a main priority for sustainable development.”

Mr Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), who serves as Co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission said: “I am pleased to say that the Commission goes from strength to strength. This year saw the launch of our updated global broadband targets to bring online the world’s 3.8 billion people currently not connected to the Internet, at the Special Session in Davos in January attended by many of you, as well as Heads of UN agencies and industry CEOs. The Commission’s targets track some of the most important policy priorities in broadband, and will play an important role in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who serves as Co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission said: “We are reaching an important milestone with half of the population online. But advantages of internet access are not shared equally. Access to Internet is not enough in itself to improve livelihoods. We must put emphasis on digital skills and knowledge”

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