Broadband Commission pushes to extend internet access and boost capacity
Issa Sikiti da Silva
Internet access should be extended to boost the fight against Coronavirus by, among others, enhancing digital networks and strengthening capacity at critical connectivity points like hospitals and transport hubs, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development said yesterday.
As the virus continues to tear up communities around the world at a fast pace, the Commission has moved swiftly to adopt an Agenda for Action, which some observers believe equates to desperate measures for desperate times.
Adopted at a virtual meeting held in Geneva this week, the Agenda for Action is calling for governments, industry, the international community and civil society to step up efforts to ensure that digital access and inclusivity are boosted and maintained anytime and anywhere during this period.
The aim, according to the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, is to strengthen collective response to the COVID-19 crisis now sweeping the world.
Built on pillars such as ‘Resilient Connectivity’, ‘Affordable Access’, and ‘Safe Use for Informed and Educated Societies’, the agenda serves as a framework for the members of the Commission (the Commissioners) and their organisations to share their own initiatives, make new commitments, and foster collaboration and partnership.
“Combat misinformation and rising inequality, maximize access to relevant data for public good, and protect millions of additional children joining the online community for the first time in order to connect to remote learning platforms,” UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Advisor Fabrizio Hochschild said at the meeting held in Geneva.
Worldwide, learning institutions have closed doors due to the Covid-19, affecting over 89% of the world’s student population, according to UNICEF. Many parents have turned to the internet to seek temporary solutions to ensure that their children continue learning.
“In addition to the devastating immediate effects of COVID-19, the secondary impacts on education, jobs, and finances will continue to impact children, and the world's most vulnerable, disproportionately in the years to come," Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director, pointed out at the virtual meeting.