The ITU UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has examined new financing models that would help accelerate meaningful universal connectivity on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The Commissioners agreed that targeted efforts are needed to lower the cost of broadband, as well as innovative policies to finance the rollout of broadband infrastructure to unconnected populations. Collaboration among diverse stakeholders will be key to making universal and meaningful connectivity a reality for all.
“We are on the verge of a new era that requires quick, effective and innovative financing instruments to connect the remaining unconnected. The old ways can no longer work in this era and we can no longer afford having anyone left behind,” said Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation, Republic of Rwanda, representing President Paul Kagame, who Co-Chairs the Commission.
ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said, “As we enter a new decade, the last decade to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we need new incentives and financing solutions to create environments that are conducive to investment in ICT.”
Commissioners and participants also examined ways to address the digital investment gap, policies and incentives for investors and other digital industry stakeholders, and what innovative financing models can be scaled up to expand infrastructure.
Among the models highlighted is the ITU UNICEF School Connectivity project, also known as the ‘GIGA’ initiative which aims at bringing connectivity to every school in every village around the world to empower young people with the digital skills they need to flourish in the digital economy.
Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau said, “Multi-stakeholder collaboration and partnership will be key to connecting the 3.6 billion people still off-line. We all have to work together and increase our efforts to bring technology to the people, in every area and every walk of life.”