Nigeria would benefit $18.5 billion in pledges from governments and businesses to expand Internet access

Kings Nwachukwu

Kings Nwachukwu

Governments and businesses contributed more than $18.5 billion to support worldwide Internet access, giving hope to the world’s 2.9 billion people who do not have access to the Internet.

The World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ended in Kigali, Rwanda, yesterday, with this as its high point. Over 360 contributions totaling $18.55 billion were sealed at the Partner2Connect (P2C) Digital Development Roundtable session, which established the fund.

The commitments were essentially unprecedented support from countries and businesses to increase Internet connectivity worldwide as a fundamental part of sustainable development, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the UN’s communications arm.

While there are 148 million Internet users in Nigeria, mostly on narrowband, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) statistics show that there are still 114 access gaps, with almost 25 million Nigerians without access to basic telephonic services.

The $18.5 billion pledge for increased global connectivity is expected to assist Nigeria, as a critical member of the ITU.

The push for universal and meaningful connectivity embodied in the P2C promises, according to the global telecoms group, will directly help billions of people throughout the world, particularly in poorer nations where connectivity is lacking.

The funds, services, technical support, and other help described in the commitments will increase people’s access to – and readiness for – digital technologies, as well as build digital ecosystems and incentivize investment in digital transformation, according to the ITU.

“The Partner2Connect Digital Development Roundtable will prove to be a tipping moment,” Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union, predicted. The pledges and commitments made in Kigali and in the months leading up to this Roundtable send a strong statement that by working together, we can increase investment in ICT development and ensure that no one is left behind.”

More than a third of the world’s population, or 2.9 billion individuals, have never used the Internet.

“We need everyone to pull together in the same direction if we are to successfully face the challenge of delivering ubiquitous meaningful connectivity internationally,” Rwanda’s Minister for ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, who also serves as Chair of the WTDC, stated. Partner2Connect is one of the most effective ways for us to catalyze and engage in fruitful collaborations that will help us achieve universal connectivity.”

The P2C pledges come at a vital juncture, with the long-running COVID-19 epidemic emphasizing the value of rapid, dependable internet connectivity as a critical service.

The pledges made at the Roundtable were not just financial; they also included ground-breaking commitments, policies, and advocacy plans to close the digital gap, laying the groundwork for new global connectivity partnerships and alliances.

“We are now setting a major milestone by gathering under one umbrella an unprecedented number of commitments to advance universal and meaningful connectivity,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, “after months of collective work developing the Partner2Connect Action Framework and the pledging platform, together with ITU Member States, civil society groups, philanthropic organizations, private and youth-led organizations.”

“Our Partner2Connect Coalition pledges us to accelerate our efforts to link the unconnected and achieve sustainable global development,” said Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Ghana’s Minister of Communications and Digitalisation and P2C Coalition Focus Area Leader. Let us put all of our promises into action for the sake of our common good.”

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