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Tech News & Podcast | Africa

Mobile Industry’s $9 Billion Boost Global Connectivity Drive

Connectivity, is the hallmark at ITU. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), driving innovation in ICTs together with 193 Member States and a membership of over 1,000 companies, universities, and international and regional organizations. Established in 1865, it is the intergovernmental body responsible for coordinating the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, improving communication infrastructure in the developing world, and establishing the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems.

From broadband networks to cutting-edge wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, oceanographic and satellite-based earth monitoring as well as converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world.

Over USD 9 billion in investment commitments from mobile operator groups to expand global connectivity was announced on Monday by ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. At the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the news was made, further solidifying the mobile industry’s strong backing of the ITU’s global connectivity initiatives.

The UN Digital Agency not only revealed the new promises but also revealed that, in addition to its 193 Member States, it also has over 1,000 members from industry, academia, and organisations. With the passage of time, the agency’s membership has grown to the greatest and most diverse level ever.

The recent industry pledges bring the total anticipated investment in services, infrastructure, and support to ITU’s Partner2Connect Digital Coalition since the platform’s launch in March 2022 to over USD 46 billion.

We can achieve universal meaningful connectivity, according to ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “Millions of people worldwide will benefit from affordable and easily accessible connectivity as a result of these new commitments.”

Industry Leaders Unite: $9 Billion Pledged for Universal Connectivity

  • e&: USD 6 billion between 2024 and 2026 for digital services and network connectivity that is both accessible and reasonably priced throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia
  • China Telecom: The company will invest more than USD 1.4 billion to build fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure, giving over 80 million residents of isolated administrative villages in China access to high-quality communication and information services.
  • Ooredoo: USD 1.1 billion for internet access in underdeveloped nations from the Indian Ocean to North Africa.
  • VEON: USD 600 million was spent on constructing Ukraine’s infrastructure and offering digital services and connectivity that are crucial to the nation’s restoration.

John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA, said, “I applaud the ITU Secretary-General’s focus on the importance of infrastructure investment to enable the digital economy.” “Mobile carriers assist people all around the world by constantly investing in the deployment and enhancement of their networks. I applaud VEON, Ooredoo, China Telecom, e&, and Ooredoo for their investment commitments. The fact that MWC is the premier gathering for these kinds of pledges and public-private sector cooperation gives me hope.”

Bridging the Digital Divide: Pledges for Global Connectivity

ITU data indicates that 2.6 billion people globally are still not online. Telecommunications infrastructure is essential for bridging the global digital divide and overcoming development barriers in fields ranging from government services and trade to education and health. It is the backbone of connection and the digital transformation.

In order to offer the knowledge and resources needed to bring universal, meaningful connectivity and sustainable digital transformation to every corner of the world, ITU has advocated for expenditures totaling USD 100 billion by 2026.

Partner2Connect pledges can help with other essential needs, such as expanding digital inclusion and developing digital skills, in addition to infrastructure. Over the course of the next two to five years, it is anticipated that e&, China Telecom, Ooredoo, and VEON would implement their new pledges.

Inclusivity Milestone: ITU Welcomes Largest and Most Diverse Industry and Academia Members

The UN Digital Agency’s distinctive contribution to the UN system will be strengthened by the ITU’s growing membership base. Over the 159-year history of the organisation, the global membership has changed to reflect evolving technology and the growing digital ecosystem in our daily lives.

“We are thrilled to have these new members join ITU’s rich legacy of innovation, which has been shaped by public-private partnerships and has shaped the role of technology in society,” Bogdan-Martin added. “This multi-stakeholder model of collaboration will continue to be a strong force in the UN system to bridge the digital divide and build an inclusive, safe and sustainable digital future for all.”

Industry members of ITU work together with academic institutions, governments, and civil society to create new global standards and recommendations that will influence the direction of the digital economy in the future. Collectively, ITU members carry out programmes and projects that increase global access to digital services.

ITU’s sector membership is made up of two thirds industry members and the remaining third members of academic institutions and regional or global organisations. They originate from both established and emerging economies located all over the world.

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