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Support Grows for Global Connect Initiative to bring Internet Access to the Developing World

Last week I had the privilege of attending various side meetings held in conjunction with the United Nations High Level Meeting on WSIS+10 (World Summit on the Information Society), a ten-year review of progress in advancing digital access in the developing world. At the conclusion of the session, the General Assembly took a bold stand in reaffirming multistakeholder governance of the Internet as an effective means for advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. While much work remains to be done, ITI commends the governments and innovative companies that have taken action to achieve measurable progress in the last decade. We welcome the opportunity to partner with other stakeholders to maintain this momentum and help achieve even greater progress in the next 10 years.

ITI also participated in a high-level meeting to discuss the Department of State’s new Global Connect Initiative (GCI), hosted by the U.S. Mission to the UN, which aims to connect 1.5 billion people worldwide to the Internet by 2020. There are obvious potential synergies between “WSIS+20” and the GCI. ITI supports the initiative, which was launched this past September, and is joined in its support by other governments and information communication technology (ICT) innovators from around the world.

There is tremendous potential for digital technologies to drive economic growth, innovation and improved living standards, particularly in the developing countries. We are seeing it in Nigeria, where parents are using the Internet to gain access to information on preventive and prenatal health care, and farmers are accessing information on the effective, timely use of fertilizers. We are seeing it in Uruguay, where access to broadband has inspired young entrepreneurs throughout the country to join forces via incubator ecosystems to create thriving startup communities. Indeed, we are seeing encouraging progress all over the world, from Peshawar to Kampala to Bogotá.

As my colleague Josh Kallmer elaborated in his September blog, through the GCI, governments and industry will seek to: 1) build mainstream support for the proposition that the Internet is fundamental to the economy of every country and should be a central element of global development efforts; 2) provide a platform for the private sector, international organizations, and development organizations to coordinate their activities internationally; and 3) assist governments around the world in identifying policy and regulatory frameworks essential to attracting the expertise and investment that has helped fuel innovation around the world.

Many ITI member companies support the GCI and have committed to deploy digital technologies to power growth and development around the world. Through public-private commitments inspired by the GCI, we anticipate a rapid expansion of effective utilization of information technology throughout the world. ITI looks forward to working with and supporting the U.S. government, other governments, and the private sector in this worthwhile effort.

Public Policy Tags: Broadband, Communications, & Spectrum