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UN charges nations on 2025 broadband target

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The United Nation expects half of the world’s population to be connected to the Internet by the end of 2019 at the latest.

This leaves the other half – an estimated 3.8 billion people – unconnected and unable to benefit from key social and economic resources in the expanding digital world.

But to bridge this gap, and in order for the remaining half to be connected, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, which was launched in May 2010, by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), set an ambitious 2025 target, with seven key agenda.

The 2025 target, termed: “Connecting the Other Half”, is expected to ensure the digitisation of the globe through connectivity.

A copy of the plan made available to The Guardian, on Monday showed that first, by 2025, all countries should have a funded National Broadband Plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access and Service (UAS) definition. This builds on the Commission’s existing target for national broadband plans, with an increased emphasis on implementation capacity through the specification that plans/ strategies are funded.

The Commission noted that since setting its initial target in 2011 for the establishment of national broadband plans, these measures have been undertaken by a majority of countries.

Secondly, by 2025, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries at less than two per cent of monthly Gross National Income (GNI) per capita.

This, the Commission said, lowers it’s existing affordability threshold target from less than five per cent to less than two per cent of monthly gross national income per capita – enabling broadband services (fixed or mobile) to be affordable to a much greater number of people.

While affordability has improved significantly since the Commission set its initial target in 2011, it said costs remain high in many countries. This new target will particularly assist lower income groups in developing and least developed countries to gain connectivity.

Thirdly by 2025, Broadband-Internet user penetration should reach 75 per cent of the worldwide;
65 per cent in developing countries, and 35 per cent in Least Developed Countries.

These ambitious values set targets aimed at connecting everyone, everywhere – with a special focus on developing country and least developed country populations, which are the most vulnerable to being unconnected.

Indeed, while broadband penetration is currently at 33.08 per cent in Nigeria, the country, through the telecommunications operators are working to push the penetration to 70 per cent in another five years.

The President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, who believed that the capacity and capability is there in the country, said the operators are strategising deeply to ensure ubiquitous broadband connections across the larger part of the country.

Fourthly, by 2025, the Commission said 60 per cent of youth and adults should have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills.

According to the UN body, people need digital skills to access, use and benefit from broadband/ Internet resources; while an increase in people with digital skills is necessary to enable broadband/ Internet user penetration to increase.

Additionally, digital skills are becoming increasingly critically important to accessing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

The fifth target, according to the body is that in six years time, 40 per cent of the world’s population should be using digital financial services. It said digital financial services present a tremendous opportunity to swiftly increase the number of people using broadband, and the Internet, and realising the social and economic benefits of these digital resources.

Currently, two billion adults are still without access to a bank account, and yet some 1.6 billion of them have access to a mobile phone, creating the potential for e-finance access –and with this access to economic empowerment.

The sixth target will be that by 2025, the world would have overcome unconnectedness of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) by 50 per cent, by sector

This target is particularly ambitious for MSMEs in those sectors that remain largely unconnected, and incentivizes well-connected sectors to close the final gap.

By 2025, the seventh plan of the Commission would be to have achieved gender equality across all targets.

The Broadband Commission noted that in all areas of broadband accessibility and use, women and girls are left behind. Gender equality must be realised in order to achieve all 2025 Targets – including Internet users, digital skills, digital financial services and MSMEs and bring broadband and Internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere.


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