ICT and Innovation Minister Paula Ingabire has been named founding board member of EDISON Alliance, a new global venture set to close the digital divide.
Essential Digital Infrastructure and Services Network, or EDISON Alliance, was launched to accelerate digital inclusion, address inequality, and connect critical sectors of the economy.
The development was announced during the ongoing Davos Agenda 2021 under the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Ingabire was named alongside four other world leaders including Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO, Verizon; Mastercard Executive Chair Ajay Banga; Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice-Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals Group; and American billionaire Robert F. Smith, Founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners.
The board of world-renown executives make up the first cross-sector international initiative that will ensure global and equitable access to digital economy.
The Alliance, according to WEF, will work with governments and industries to accelerate digital inclusion. It has a goal to ensure an unprecedented level of cross-sector collaboration between the technology industry and other critical sectors of the economy.
“Accelerating affordable access to digitally-enabled services – like healthcare, education or financial services – is foundational to economic recovery and social cohesion,” said Derek O’Halloran, Member of the Executive Committee and Head of the Digital Economy at WEF.
“Achieving this will take deep, sustained collaboration. It is critical that we move together and that we move fast.”
Access to digital technologies has enabled many to stay afloat or even thrive during this pandemic. However, near half of the world’s population remains offline and the cost of broadband in developing countries is still expensive.
The global crisis has exposed the deepening divide. These digital inequalities have created “connectivity deserts” which hamper access to health, education and economic inclusion.
At the inauguration of EDISON Alliance this Thursday, Minister Ingabire exhibited how cross-sector use of new technologies is saving the day during these times and called for further cooperation.
“We have seen tremendous collaborations during the pandemic to enable greater access to digital services. Moving forward we need even greater mobilization of all levels of government and private sector organizations to develop impactful solutions that will ensure equitable and affordable access to broadband connectivity, in order to achieve the targets set for 2025,” she said.
The tech official is expected, among other things, to share Rwanda’s loaded experience in controlling the virus.
Over the past decade, full-fledged use of digital technologies has been top of the mind for the Rwandan government.
Last September at a UN high-level meeting, President Paul Kagame made a case for internet access by noting its necessity for Africa’s largest demographic – the youth to be able to learn, work and prosper.
Three months before, Rwanda had been selected to spearhead the Giga Initiative, a UN ambitious enterprise to connect every world school to the internet by 2030.