By Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU Secretary-General
The year 2022 was a big one for the Giga team, as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) school initiative picked up momentum on tackling one of the most challenging, pervasive issues of our time – connecting schools to the internet by 2030 and every young person to information, opportunity, and choice.
It is unimaginable and unacceptable that one out of three people – more than 2.7 billion people worldwide – are still offline and left without access to the Internet. Among them are 1.3 billion children who are missing out on information, opportunities and choices that come with being connected. The digital divide often leaves behind the most marginalized, pushing them to the fringes of the world.
Being the first ever woman to head ITU, an achievement that has taken more than 100 years, I believe that initiatives such as Giga are essential in providing children, especially young women, with the opportunity to connect to the Internet and forge a dignified future where they can lead, enjoy and harness the power of connectivity – regardless of where they were born, or where they live.
The digital divide is an urgent and important global issue that needs concerted action from stakeholders such as government, technology companies and multilateral agencies. No single actor can tackle it alone. Giga is an ambitious but achievable mission. Thanks to the support of our partners including governments and technology providers, we have created innovative solutions which are helping to connect millions of children around the world.
The 2022 report showcases these innovations and celebrates the milestones we’ve achieved in 2022. In just a short period of time since its establishment in 2019, Giga has made strides in achieving universal school connectivity. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Mapping more than 2.1 million schools in 136 countries* on Giga Maps to pinpoint which schools remain offline;
- Connected 5,561 schools in 20 countries;
- Building the UN’s largest NFT collection to raise funds for school connectivity;
- Financing school connectivity through innovative mechanisms such as spectrum auctions and special contracting arrangements for school connectivity and;
- Sharing stories of impact from Brazil, the State of Palestine, Sudan, and many more.
But more work needs to be done.
By the end of 2023, Giga aims to have mapped the locations of 2.5 million schools and supported 40 countries through connectivity initiatives, and helped governments connect 20,000 more schools to the Internet using Giga’s innovative tools and approaches.
Get involved in our mission and learn more by reading the full report below.
* 55 countries were mapped directly by Giga with Governments and Partners, and 81 were mapped through OpenStreetMap