ITU Connect2Recover to Boost Africa’s Post-COVID Connectivity
THE International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has launched the Connect2Recover Initiative, which will initially focus on Africa, helping the continent accelerate digital transformation post-COVID-19.
The ITU says Africa is the least connected continent, and is expected to be hit hardest by COVID-19 in socio-economic terms. It adds that Connect2Recover reinforces long-standing efforts to accelerate digital transformation on the continent and help achieve long-term development goals.
At the launch of the initiative last week, the world telecommunications body noted that out of the 25 least connected countries in the world, 21 are in Africa, with nearly 300 million Africans living more than 50km from a fibre or cable broadband connection.
“Access to high-speed Internet thus remains out of reach for many Africans, hindering their ability to fully harness the potential of digital transformation,” says the ITU.
It notes that
Connect2Recover seeks to expand access to affordable and reliable connectivity, which is an essential aspect of countries’ COVID-19 recovery strategies.
ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao explains: “The ITU, and the wider international community, is transitioning from aiding countries with their immediate response to COVID19, to helping countries prepare for and adjust to a ‘new normal’.
“As the United Nations is calling on its member states to ‘build back better’, Connect2Recover represents the ITU’s contribution by facilitating socio-economic recovery through the use of digital infrastructure, services and applications, thanks to the generous support of the Japanese government and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Connect2Recover is backed by the ministry of internal affairs and communications of Japan and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre of Saudi Arabia.
In a statement, the ITU says COVID-19 has highlighted that digital infrastructure is not just a convenience but an essential requirement for fullyfledged participation in society and the economy.
“Broadband connectivity has proved vital in helping countries’ businesses and citizens adapt and respond to the pandemic, enabling them to access the latest health information and continue working, learning and socialising remotely.”