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ITU announces $4.8 billion investment to boost global connectivity  

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), has announced $4.8 billion investment commitments to drive global connectivity.  

The UN Agency for digital technologies announced this on Monday during the plenary of the 2024 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+20) forum in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to the Agency, the announcement brings the total pledges aimed at closing the digital divide through ITU’s Partner2Connect Digital Coalition (P2C) to $50.96 billion. 

With the latest addition, the ITU said the total commitments towards global connectivity is now more than half the $100 billion goal set for 2026. 

ITU disclosed that among the new commitments announced at the WSIS Forum event were pledges that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance digital access, adoption, and inclusion.  

Commenting on the new investment, ITU Secretary-General, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, said, 

“Closing the digital divide requires a team effort, and today we scored a huge win for global connectivity. I am thrilled to see these amazing new commitments and that we have united P2C and WSIS to break through the halfway point in our goal to help bring the benefits of digital connectivity to everyone, everywhere. 

“Because of the leadership, vision and ambition of P2C’s pledgers, millions of people will be given the opportunity to have more accessible, more affordable digital technologies for socio-economic growth, improved health, and everything that makes connectivity meaningful. It’s extremely exciting to see new pledges begin to leverage the power of artificial intelligence to transform the inclusive digital societies we all aspire to build,” Bogdan-Martin added. 

ITU said investors in the latest funding commitment include American telecom company, AT&T, which helps 25 million people in the hardest-to-connect areas in the United States to get and stay connected by 2030 through a commitment of $3 billion.  

Microsoft is said to have also made a new pledge to support projects and prioritize partnerships to rapidly accelerate how people with disabilities are included in and represented by the systems, designs, and features of technology, including AI.  

The WSIS+20 Forum High-Level Event is meeting from 27 to 31 May to address challenges and log achievements in the two decades since the multi-stakeholder WSIS process was established. 

At the WSIS Forum event, government ministers and officials from over 160 countries as well as representatives from the private sector, civil society, academia, the technical community, the UN System, and intergovernmental organizations are analysing key trends shaping the world, including artificial intelligence, space for sustainable development, and other fast-evolving topics. 

Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, is representing the country at the ongoing Forum.  

The WSIS+20 Forum High-Level Event outcome will inform the UN General Assembly WSIS+20 review scheduled for September 2025 to identify how WSIS processes can support the Global Digital Compact expected to be agreed as part of the Summit of the Future later this year.