ITU and UNICEF have joined forces in a bid to connect every school to the Internet by 2030.
Launched in 2019, Giga sets the goal of providing connectivity to every school in the world. Some 3.6 billion people in the world do not have access to the Internet. The lack of access to the Internet means exclusion, marked by the lack of access to the wealth of information available online, fewer resources to learn and to grow, and limited opportunities for the most vulnerable children and youth to fulfill their potential. Closing the digital divide requires global cooperation, leadership, and innovation in finance and technology.
Giga will bring the power of meaningful connectivity to fast track young people’s access to educational resources and opportunities. Giga will make sure every child is equipped with the digital public goods they need, and empowered to shape the future they want.
Giga also serves as a platform to create the infrastructure necessary to provide digital connectivity to an entire country, for every community, and for every citizen. It is about using schools to identify demand for connectivity, as well as using schools as an analogy for learning and connecting where the community can come together and support its next generation in a world where we are all increasingly digital, where the skills that are required are not formal ones, necessarily, and where learning happens continuously.
The Giga initiative consists of four pillars: Map, Connect, Finance, and Empower.
In partnership with governments, Giga has started by mapping connectivity demand, using schools as a base point, and identifying where there are connectivity gaps. This information, combined with existing ITU mapping data, allows countries to take stock of their existing infrastructure and assess wired and wireless availability when assessing appropriate solutions for connecting schools. Already more than 800,000 schools in 15 countries have been mapped, and are viewable live at www.projectconnect.world
Giga will work with governments and advise them on building affordable and sustainable country specific models for finance and delivery, subsidizing market creation costs and incentivizing private sector investment.
In partnership with industry, and based on the mapping results, Giga will determine the best possible technical solutions available to provide schools with required connectivity, and countries with safe, secure, reliable, fit for purpose infrastructure to support future digital development needs. This includes determining the best possible solutions for last mile connectivity.
Building on investments by UNICEF’s Venture Fund in open source solutions, Giga will work with governments to identify, localize, and implement appropriate Digital Public Goods at scale, as per a country’s development priorities and in coordination with the broader national digital strategy. The focus is on, but not limited to, information and skills to children, teachers, and administrators.