2.9 billion people do not have internet, mostly marginalized women. POLITICO:

The need for reliable communications services has never been more urgent, as the pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict clearly highlight the importance of telecommunications infrastructure in keeping societies, governments, businesses and individuals properly connected. Specifically in humanitarian disasters, conflicts and war zones.

Data: released last year by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations’ information and telecommunications technology agency, clearly showed the global growth of Internet use. The estimated number of Internet users in 2021 has reached 4.9 billion, up from an estimated 4.1 billion in 2019.

This boost in connectivity was driven by people’s basic needs, which include access to healthcare, government services, medical diagnosis, education, daily news, e-commerce and online banking.

Despite progress in increasing access to the Internet and mobile services, more than a third of the world’s population and many businesses globally remain disconnected and behind. Of the nearly 3 billion still offline, about 96 percent live in developing countries. These people are mostly in least developed, landlocked and small island developing countries, where less than 25 percent of people currently have Internet access.

Women are particularly marginalized, with roughly four in five still offline in the least developed countries.

Women are particularly marginalized, with roughly four in five still offline in the least developed countries.

Barriers to mobile and Internet connectivity include network access, availability of devices and services, and lack of perception of the benefits of online connectivity. This is exacerbated by the lack of local language content and barriers to access for those without literacy and numeracy skills.

Although the number of people online has increased, hundreds of millions of them may only access the Internet infrequently due to issues such as device sharing, poor connection speeds, and Internet outages. These restrictions can severely affect how productive their time is online, making the connectivity gap even larger than official figures suggest. Many of those who are digitally excluded face limited access to education and lifelong poverty.

Basic communication services and broadband have become modern necessities like shelter, food, clean water and electricity. More than ever, Internet access has become a fundamental human right.

A decade ago, Finland declared broadband a legal right. Similarly, through its Sustainable Development Goals published in 2011, the UN identified the same global need to close the digital and connectivity divide while advocating for universal broadband access.

In addition, factors such as climate change, urbanization and population growth are causing an increasing number of communities around the world to become more vulnerable to natural hazards that threaten people and livelihoods, as well as critical ICT infrastructure.

Many of those who are digitally excluded face limited access to education and lifelong poverty.

With the increasing number of emergencies, flexible telecommunications technologies are an important tool for disaster management and risk reduction, as well as: humanitarian and conflict zones wider.

Although the global economy has been turned upside down by the current geopolitical situations, the importance of telecommunications is acknowledged in ITU and UNESCO reports, which highlight the requirement for broadband to meet the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals. We also have morals. obligation to support societies in difficult situations.

Telecommunications significantly contribute to the capacity of developing countries to distribute vaccines, fight poverty and mitigate the effects of climate change. However, such efforts require risk-based investments across large geographies, as well as in research and development, mergers and acquisitions, and network infrastructure. The industry needs to be everywhere: business-to-consumer, business-to-business, and the Internet of Things. Fibre, 5G broadband and urban as well as rural mobile connectivity are vital to our future.

While the power to connect remains a tremendous privilege, governments and businesses must work together to achieve the goal of global Internet access.

Azmi T. Mikati is the CEO of M1 Group, a global telecommunications company.

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