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Executive Director Fore,
Ladies and gentlemen,
COVID-19 has emphasised, like never before, the world’s digital divide. Many communities around the world are making the most of fast, reliable and affordable access to digital solutions. This helps cushion the dramatic impact of the virus.
However, globally, 3.6 billion people are still not connected, including 900 million in Africa. Only 27% of women in Africa have access to the internet and a mere 15% of them can afford to use it. In this continent, the pandemic will erase years of economic progress.
The most efficient way out of this crisis is a green and digital recovery.
In this context, GIGA is a great initiative for fostering connectivity. The European Investment Bank is joining UNICEF, the International Telecommunication Union and other partners with the aim to connect all schools, learning centres and youth in the world by 2030.
Our cooperation with UNICEF is strengthening. We have made great progress in Serbia for instance, where the EIB is supporting the programme UNICEF developed with the Government to provide digital training to teachers.
To better understand the digital solutions that can help Africa and to estimate the investment required, the European Investment Bank organised a broad-based survey in many African countries to highlight technological solutions that can help manage the pandemic.
GIGA and EIB teams are now working on identifying financing solutions for connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Central Asia and the Western Balkans.
Blending schemes, guarantees and new innovative instruments, such as Connectivity Bonds are needed.
Investments in Private Public Partnerships must be developed to expand the reach of local Internet Service Providers.
We can and we must do more.
My colleagues and I look forward to working together with you, towards the goal of connectivity for all.