ITU Con­nec­t2Re­cover to Boost Africa’s Post-COVID Con­nec­tiv­ity

Nigeria Communications Week - - News - Ugo On­wuaso

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.”

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