The Global Connect Initiative (GCI) is a U.S. Department of State-led multi-stakeholder effort, which aims to bring 1.5 billion additional people online by 2020. GCI was announced by the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment on September 27, 2015, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Global Connect is based on the notion that Internet connectivity is as critical to economic development as other forms of infrastructure. It aims to foster pro-market environments that encourage investment, innovation and job creation. GCI calls on all stakeholders to do their part to expand access to the Internet globally, whether they’re governments creating and updating national broadband plans, multilateral development banks prioritizing connectivity in their programs, or the private sector providing innovative solutions to connecting people in remote areas. Today, Global Connect and its connectivity principles have been endorsed by over 40 countries and many more stakeholders.
On October 5-6, 2016, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), in partnership with the World Bank, Internet Society and People Centered Internet, organized the second Global Connect Stakeholders Conference in Washington D.C., titled ‘Advancing Solutions’. The conference convened 175 top connectivity network engineers, regulatory experts and representatives from government to discuss approaches aimed at advancing solutions to challenges to increasing connectivity and achieving Global Connect’s ambitious goals. Experts discussed, among other matters, the laying of a multi-billion dollar cable along the West African coast, securitized financing for connectivity and broader ICT projects, as well as efforts to advance human rights through development and connectivity programs.
On September 18, 2016, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment joined colleagues in the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development for a meeting at the Yale Club in New York. The Commission was established in May 2010 with the aim of boosting the importance of broadband connectivity on the international policy agenda and expanding broadband access in every country as a key to accelerating progress towards development targets. Many Broadband Commissioners expressed support for the key objectives of the Global Connect Initiative and, in particular, were keen on finding ways to accelerate major infrastructure projects among international development finance institutions.
On September 15, 2016, U.S. Ambassador Richard R. Verma spoke about the importance of the Global Connect Initiative while addressing the IEEE-organized event Internet Inclusion: Advancing Solutions (IIAS) – Delhi. The event in Delhi, India, brought together government officials and leaders from development banks, industry, the technical community, non-governmental organizations/civil-society organizations and others for a day of collaboration on bringing affordable, universal Internet access to the almost 60 percent of the world’s population that remains unconnected today.
On August 10, 2016 on the occasion of the inaugural meeting of the bilateral Digital Economy Working Group, the U.S. and Argentine delegations announced that Argentina will be a partner country under the Global Connect Initiative. In addition, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and ENACOM, the Argentine regulatory authority, are working together on technical and regulatory issues such as market-based reform and spectrum management.
Global Connect Initiative High-Level Event, April 14, 2016
On April 14, 2016, the World Bank and U.S. Department of State co-hosted a high level event at the World Bank Executive Board Room to support the Global Connect initiative, an effort to bring 1.5 billion online by 2020. The World Bank and U.S. Department of State were joined by Finance Ministers from all continents, along with technology CEOs, NGO presidents, and heads of the major multilateral development banks.
Internet Inclusion: Global Connect Stakeholders Advancing Solutions — Washington, D.C., April 13, 2016
On April 13, 2016, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and World Bank convened 160 of the top connectivity network engineers, regulatory experts and representatives from government to develop a plan of action for how to meet Global Connect’s ambitious goals. Experts surfaced fiber maps, current projects, and potential projects to create situational awareness. They helped create a road map that includes detailed, region-specific action plans, including: (1) recommendations for which areas and populations to focus initial efforts, (2) technical solutions in every region (3) getting past regulatory and tax barriers, (4) successful integration of connectivity into MDB and country development plans.
For more on the event, see: http://internetinitiative.ieee.org/events/conferences/global-connect-stakeholders-advancing-solutions
- Global Connect Initiative Connectivity Principles (PDF)
- Global Connect Initiative Road Map (PDF)
- Global Connect Initiative Global Actions (PDF)
- Global Connect Initiative Interagency Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Global Connect Initiative Support Document (PDF)
- Global Connect Initiative Dig Once: The How-To Guide (PDF)
“We are pleased to support the US State Department’s Global Connect initiative and as our team operationalizes the WDR of 2016, we think that there will be many opportunities to work with Global Connect and others.”
Dr. Jim Kim of The World Bank Group
“ITU welcomes the Global Connect initiative as a concrete step towards meeting the Connect 2020 targets for global connectivity. This initiative is fully in line with the goals of the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development to advocate for the transformative power of high-speed networks in advancing human development.”
Houlin Zhao, Secretary General
“ICT is our chance to move ahead in development…in closing, I would like to announce that Estonia will be joining the United States in its new diplomatic initiative Global Connect, which has an aim of bringing 1.5 billion people online by 2020.” – from the September 27, 2015 launch of the Global Connect Initiative
President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves
“Today, more than ever, access to the Internet is essential for full participation in the global community – being connected empowers people to achieve more. We applaud the State Department on its continued progress on the Global Connect Initiative and fully support the principles defined to achieve its ambitious goal of connecting an additional 1.5 billion people by 2020. Putting these principles into meaningful action by all stakeholders is critical to reaching this goal, and to fully realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. As one of our own actions, Microsoft recently launched a new fund as part of our Affordable Access Initiative. The fund will nurture and support companies that are focused on bringing affordable Internet access to underserved markets and empowering local communities and peoples globally. We are pleased to partner with the State Department and other organizations on this important initiative.”
“Broadband can reduce poverty and inequality, ensure access to health and education, improve climate change,promote peace, and ensure sustainable development in the decades to come. ICTs are a key answer in ensuring no one and no society is left behind.”
“Comcast NBCUniversal Comcast NBCUniversal recognizes the tremendous potential for digital technologies to drive economic growth, innovation, and increased living standards, in the United States and throughout the world. We commend the U.S. Department of State for its leadership in developing the Global Connect initiative to close the digital divide.
The Department’s collaboration with the public and private sectors, domestically and internationally, is integral to bringing the full array of resources for education, employment, healthcare, and entertainment to all communities.
As the creator the United States’s largest and most comprehensive Internet adoption program – Internet Essentials — Comcast is proud to support this umbrella effort and also other efforts at the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, and the Internet Governance Forum to help bridge the digital divide and extend the benefits of connectivity to unserved and underserved areas everywhere.”
Rebecca Arbogast, Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy
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