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The global outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the world’s digital divide into sharp focus.

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Connectivity is a driver of economic development and a tool for empowering people and communities

ITU News reports that the Internet is a vital communications tool for people and communities affected by the outbreak of the Coronavirus. As schools and workplaces close, those without reliable access to the Internet are unable to access digital education tools or risk losing working hours. Other people may miss critical medical advice that is broadcast on digital services.

“Telecommunications have moved from only allowing for people to connect to becoming essential for the functioning of an economy in society today,” Américo Muchanga, Chairman of the Regulatory Commission Authority of Mozambique, said on the latest ITU podcast.

According to ITU data, 93 per cent of the global population within reach of mobile broadband (3G network or higher), and yet 3.6 billion people remain offline. In the event of a global health crisis, Internet access is crucial for the day-to-day economy – and a vital lifeline for those affected.

Indeed, connectivity is a driver of economic development and a tool for empowering people and communities – and this role is even more prescient in times of crisis.

So, what’s being done to ensure meaningful connectivity for all the world’s people so that they, too, can reap the benefits of today’s digital economy, including staying safe in the midst of a health crisis?

ITU’s latest podcast on digital inclusion

ITU explored the issue of global digital inclusion in detail in the latest episode of the Technology for Good podcast series. It identifies several barriers – including gender,

socioeconomic status and disability – that prevent worldwide access. Listen here

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