|Topic:||Connecting the Unconnected|
|Author:||Fredric J. Morris|
Fredric J. Morris, Editor-in-Chief, Connect-World
In June 2005, the Secretary-General of ITU – along with 22 founding partners – launched the Connect the World initiative. This was intended to help bring access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the estimated 800,000 villages and one billion people worldwide for whom making a simple telephone call remains out of reach. Connect the World is a global multi-stakeholder platform established within the context of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to promote existing projects and encourage new partnerships to bridge the digital divide. By showcasing development efforts now underway and by tracking progress and identifying areas where needs are the most pressing, Connect the World will help create a critical mass that will generate the momentum needed to “connect the unconnected by 2015”. No single player has the means or expertise to meet this entire challenge on their own. That is why Connect the World places strong emphasis on the importance of partnerships between the public and private sectors, UN agencies and civil society. Connect the World now has some 50 partners from government, business, international organizations and civil society. It is an open initiative and new partners continue to join (http://www.itu.int/partners/partners.html). Connect the World comprises three key Building Blocks – Enabling Environment, Infrastructure & Readiness, and Applications & Services – which together constitute the primary areas that need to be addressed when developing concrete measures to accelerate ICT development (http://www.itu.int/partners/factsheet.html). All Connect the World partners have current development projects in one or more of these areas. ITU is working with partners to develop new initiatives, while additional partners are being actively sought in areas not adequately covered to ensure that underserved communities get what they need where it’s needed most. For more information about Connect the World partners and projects, visit: http://www.itu.int/partners/projects.html. The ultimate objective is to have the Connect the World platform support a global community of partners and a broad popular movement that is greater than the sum of its parts. Connect the World is leveraging the skills and experience of a diverse range of players to achieve a common goal of empowering all of the world’s people through information and communication technologies.