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Connecting Europe’s underserved communities to broadband

Roger Burks's picture
The benefits of broadband Internet are well-documented: for each 10-percent increase in penetration, a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) can increase by as much as 1.5 percent. In addition, broadband Internet brings citizens access to new job opportunities, health services and possibilities for digital engagement with their government.
 
Broadband Internet can help bring jobs
to underserved areas, boosting
economic prospects.
However, citizens of the European Union (EU) who live in rural and economically disadvantaged areas have little access to broadband Internet, and therefore miss out on the wide range of opportunities it offers. Today, only 18 percent of rural households in Europe have access to these services.
 
As a result of these gaps and challenges, the European Commission is partnering with the World Bank and others on a new “Connected Communities” initiative. This large-scale project will connect towns and cities to broadband partnerships and operators, offering critical advice and specific business models to finally bring fast Internet to underserved communities.

A global information society: are we there yet?

Samia Melhem's picture
Gender and inclusion
must be more
integrated into global
information and 
​communication
technology
​(ICT) strategies.
The concept of a global information society is one of the most discussed and misunderstood “Big Ideas” of our time. While we’ve made gigantic strides toward connecting the world through information and communication technologies (ICTs), we have not attained that goal.
 
Over the last decade, ICTs have contributed to globalization, shaped economies, transformed society and changed our history. Companies that didn’t exist in 2003 – including Facebook and Twitter – are now essential components of media strategies and contribute to job creation. Broadband drives economic development across the world, and there are more than seven billion mobile cellular subscriptions.
 
Despite this meteoric change, we’re not quite there yet. While billions of people are already connected to these systems and opportunities, we need much more collaboration to bring about an information society for everyone.

A new Toolkit to help develop national broadband strategies

Sergiu Conovalu's picture
The world of information and communication technology has changed dramatically over the past decade, evolving from a simple transmission path for information into an enabling platform for countless personal, social and business uses. To keep up with this rapidly increasing usage and growing demand, today’s networks are steadily shifting from narrowband to broadband. Consumers are using broadband networks to access the Internet at speeds up to or exceeding 100 Mbit/s over wired connections, and they are increasingly using broadband-enabled mobile phones too for a wide range of activities.
 
The digital divide that was once measured in terms of differences in access to communications is now measured in terms of differences in quality of access.

A new resource from the World Bank, the Broadband Strategies Toolkit (http://www.broadbandtoolkit.org), offers advice to policy-makers and other stakeholders on how to develop a national broadband strategy. Based on expert research and collaboration that began in 2011, the final pieces of the toolkit were completed earlier this year.

New technology changes the working day, offering a strategy for more jobs in the Middle East

Kara Schoeffling's picture
  Arne Hoel

It’s no secret that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has the highest youth unemployment rate in the entire world: nearly 30% according to the International Labour Organization. Over one in four young people have no viable means for economic prosperity, and sadly education is no guarantor of a job. Despite these bleak statistics, a recent survey commissioned by Qatar’s telecom giant, Orredoo, suggests that young people still have hope of a great future, fueled in large part by the innovations of the 21st century. The challenge is to innovate technology and alter our way of thinking about work to motivate MENA’s youth.
 

Broadband in MENA: what will it take to expand internet access?

Natalija Gelvanovska's picture
 what will it take to expand internet access?

The issue of affordable connectivity gained prominence last week when photographer John Stanmeyer won World Press Photo of the Year for his eloquent picture of people standing on a beach at night in Djibouti, trying to access cheaper wireless service from neighboring Somalia. In a new study “Broadband Networks in the Middle East and North Africa: Accelerating High –Speed Internet Access (launched February 6 in Abu Dhabi) my colleagues Carlo Maria Rossotto, Michel Rogy and I looked at prices and other market structures in places like Djibouti when we set out to understand what it will take to expand broadband internet in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) from its current low base.

High-Speed internet and the Values of the Arab Spring

Joulan Abdul Khalek's picture
High-Speed Internet and the values of the Arab spring

I remember once at a conference in Tunisia being asked by a young member of parliament why it made sense to invest in a fiber optic cable to a remote village in Djerba instead of improving more basic services such as electricity grids or water irrigation. The interesting thing is that the two are not mutually exclusive, as most of the times conventional infrastructure projects also have the capacity to deliver fiber at a small incremental cost. But at the time I answered that investing in internet infrastructure should not only be seen as an economic activity but also as an extension of the values of the “Arab Spring”.

Lowering Barriers to High Speed Internet in the Arab World

Michel Rogy's picture
Lowering Barriers to High Speed Internet in the Arab World
This blog post was first published on the ICT blog.

On affordability grounds alone, millions of people in the Middle East and North Africa region could be excluded from today’s information revolution. Meeting this challenge has become a top regional priority. Many countries in the Arab world have identified broadband Internet as a critical input to the broader objective of nation building and the transition to a knowledge-based economy.http://www.worldbank.org/en/region/mena/publication/broadband-networks-in-mna

Lowering Barriers to High Speed Internet in the Arab World

Michel Rogy's picture

On affordability grounds alone, millions of people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could be excluded from today’s information revolution. Meeting this challenge has become a top regional priority. Many countries in the Arab world have identified broadband Internet as a critical input to the broader objective of nation building and the transition to a knowledge-based economy. There is growing consensus that broadband Internet is critical in fostering sustainable economic development and job creation, and a key component of strategies for reducing poverty, enhancing job opportunities, and advancing trade integration. Indeed broadband is expected to have a similar impact on the transformation of the economy and of society as a whole as the printing press, steam engines, or electricity had in the past. But for it to have its full impact, people will need access to it.

Development could be a click away in the Arab World

Junaid Kamal Ahmad's picture
Video Blog
​Junaid Kamal Ahmad, World Bank Director of Sustainable Development for the Middle East and North Africa, discusses the immense potential for high speed internet to be an engine of development in the region. This is the focus of the forthcoming report, “Broadband Networks in the Middle East and North Africa: Accelerating High-Speed Internet Access.”  

Mauritania Ramps up Broadband Internet by Stimulating Private Investment

Michel Rogy's picture

Also available in Français

The Mauritanian Minister of Economic Affairs and Development, Mr. Sidi Ould Tah, has just signed the WARCIP agreement (Mauritania Program for Regional Communications Infrastructure in West Africa), a program financed by the World Bank that aims to connect all  regions of the country to high-speed Internet by 2015 (for more details: www.warcip.mr). This signature represents for me a new step toward achievement of this project on which I have been working for two years now.


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