Bridging the Digital Divide: EIB pledges to help get 1.5 billion people online
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has today pledged its support for a worldwide drive to get 1.5 billion people in developing countries online. EIB President Werner Hoyer told an audience of policymakers in Washington DC that the EU's bank, as one of the biggest providers for ICT investment globally, would not only provide financing but also advisory services and expertise to help meet the goal.
The Global Connectivity Initiative is led by the US State Department and the World Bank Group. In line with long-standing EU policy goals, the initiative aims to mobilise Multilateral Development Banks like the EIB and key political actors to focus in particular on rural communities in developing countries who are not able to take advantage of the services and connections as well as economic opportunities that the internet has to offer.
Speaking at the Global Connect Initiative event in Washington DC, on the margins of the IMF/World Bank Group Spring meetings, EIB President Werner Hoyer said, “We at the EIB are fully committed to support the global community to bridge the digital divide. It remains a real challenge. Today, in spite of important advances in improving connectivity, too many people, in particular, in rural regions of the world continue to be left behind."
"Connectivity is a crucial factor in the future prosperity of developing nations. It is also one of the Sustainable Development Goals which we are committed to help realise. Broadband access in developing countries often functions as a substitute for non-existent physical infrastructure and transport links. It’s also a way to extend financial services to people who can’t reach a bank. The same is true of agricultural, social security, health and educational services."
President Hoyer added, "I congratulate John Kerry and his team for this Global Connectivity Initiative. Today, alongside our partners in the Development community, we offer our financing support-and our experience and expertise. This is as important as the financing itself: tailored advisory services that help access finance and get digital projects off the ground."
The EIB is currently finalising a ground-breaking new facility called the Broadband Investment Fund. In the context of the European Investment Plan, the aim is to bring together public and private funds across Europe to put $570 million into small broadband investments, mostly in infrastructure for rural areas. The EIB believes this could provide a useful model for larger scale investment out of Europe as well.
See Werner Hoyer's full speech here on the Global Connectivity Initiative:
The EIB supports the ICT and broadband sectors through a combination of financing and advisory support. With a current global ICT investment portfolio of EUR 15 billion, the EIB’s commitment in 2015 to ICT projects was EUR 1.6 billion - part of its overall EUR 18.7 billion financing for the innovation/knowledge economy. Over the past 5 years, the EIB’s total lending for innovation/ knowledge economy was EUR 65 billion. Of that total, EUR 12 billion financed capital investment in ICT projects, of which EUR 8.9 billion was for broadband.
The EIB's financing for the digital sector is focused on three main areas: broadband infrastructure; the ICT equipment industry mostly for RDI projects; digital operating software and applications in industrial RDI projects such as in the automotive and engineering sectors. The EIB’s strategic objectives include a continued increase of investments to improve broadband connectivity both the support the sector itself as well as to improve growth and productivity of the wider economy.
The EIB is committed to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through risk-based financing and in addition , through collaborating with other MDBs as well as national financial institutions and by providing advisory support to increase the investment readiness of public-private investments, with a particular focus on rural areas and on high development impact investments , within and outside the EU.
The EIB is active in 160 countries around the world. As a key player in the world of development finance, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is participating in the 2016 Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) taking place in Washington DC.
As the EU bank, the EIB provides long-term finance for sound, sustainable investment projects in support of EU policy goals including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We are one of the the largest multilateral lenders and in the world and are owned by the EU’s 28 member states. The EIB invests in four priority areas in support of growth and job creation: innovation and skills; access to finance; climate action and environment; and strategic infrastructure
As the world’s largest climate financier, the EIB is playing a particularly important role in helping to tackle climate change. Last year around 27% of all lending went towards climate action. The Bank is committed to raising the proportion of climate investment to 35% in developing countries by 2020, and placing a greater emphasis on helping regions in the frontline of climate change to adapt.
For more information
For projects and news, as well updates on EIB activities in Washington : www.eib.org/globalcooperation
European Strategic Fund for Investments www.eib.org/efsi
President Hoyer on IMF/World Bank Group Spring Meetings: video