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UN telecoms body wants 2.9b people linked to internet

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 Sh50 trillion is required to reach universal broadband connectivity by 2030. [iStockphoto]

Kenya is under increasing pressure to meet global best practices in broadband connectivity as the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) revises targets.

ITU now expects policy interventions to be fast-tracked to enable, among other key targets, broadband internet user penetration to reach 75 per cent worldwide by 2025 and 65 per cent in low and middle-income countries.

The newly updated ‘2025 Advocacy Targets of the Broadband Commission’ quick guide, says access to broadband or the internet is fundamental to inclusive and sustainable development.

“In 2021, 4.9 billion people were connected to the internet, 63 per cent of the global population,” says ITU in the document. “This means that around 2.9 billion people were left completely offline, 96 per cent of whom live in developing countries, with some 390 million with no mobile broadband coverage at all.”

Recent estimates by ITU indicate that at least $428 billion (Sh50 trillion) is required to reach universal broadband connectivity by 2030.

The ‘State of Broadband 2021’ report further finds that these investments span mobile infrastructure investments, metro and backbone fibre networks, network operation and maintenance, supporting device affordability, rural and remote deployments, policy and regulations, and ICT skills and policies.

An analysis by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that it could take up to $2 trillion (Sh233.8 trillion) to halve the digital divide and bring two billion more people into the digital age.

The report recommends that in addition to funding levels required, “issues of fragmentation (funding, legislative and regulatory frameworks, investment and distribution) and coordination across regions may be required to overcome these challenges.”

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