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During Mobile World Congress (MWC), ITU Secretary-General, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, announced over USD 9 billion in investment commitments from mobile operator groups to extend global connectivity. The announcement builds on the mobile industry's strong support of ITU's efforts to connect the world.

Alongside the new commitments, the UN Digital Agency also announced that it now has over 1,000 industry, academia and organizational members, in addition to its 193 member states. This milestone marks the largest, most diverse membership in the agency's history. 

Also Read: Essential Facts About the Oldest UN Agency: ITU

The latest industry commitments have pushed the total planned investment in infrastructure, services, and support for ITU's Partner2Connect Digital Coalition to over USD 46 billion since the platform opened in March 2022

“Universal, meaningful connectivity is within our grasp," said ITU Secretary-General, Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “Thanks to these new commitments, millions of people will benefit from accessible and affordable connectivity across the world." 

The commitments announced at Mobile World Congress include:

  • e&: USD 6 billion between 2024 and 2026 for accessible and affordable network connectivity and digital services across countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia
  • China Telecom: Over USD 1.4 billion to rollout fibre-to-the-home (FTTH)​, providing high-quality information and communication services to over 80 million people in remote administrative villages across China
  • Ooredoo: USD 1.1 billion for connectivity in the developing markets ranging from North Africa to the Indian Ocean
  • VEON: USD 600 million to building the infrastructure of Ukrai​ne, providing connectivity and digital services essential to the reconstruction of the country

“I applaud the ITU Secretary-General's focus on the importance of infrastructure investment to enable the digital economy," said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA. "Mobile operators continuously invest in deploying and upgrading their networks, delivering benefits to citizens in all corners of the globe. I congratulate e&, China Telecom, Ooredoo and VEON on their investment pledges. I am encouraged that MWC is the event of choice for such commitments and for collaboration between the public and private sectors." 

Commitments to Help Connect Everyone, Everywhere 

According to data from ITU, 2.6 billion people remain offline worldwide. As telecommunications infrastructure forms the backbone of connectivity and digital transformation, it is vital to close this global digital divide and overcome development impediments in the areas of education and health to government services and trade. 

The ITU has called for USD 100 billion in overall investments by 2026 to provide the expertise and resources required to extend universal, meaningful connectivity and sustainable digital transformation to every corner of the globe. 

In addition to infrastructure, Partner2Connect commitments can support other critical needs including building digital skills and increasing digital inclusion. The new commitments from e&, China Telecom, Ooredoo and VEON are expected to be implemented over the next 2-5 years. 

ITU Unveils Record-Breaking Industry and Academic Membership

ITU's expanded membership base will build on the UN Digital A​gency's unique contribution to the UN system. Global membership has evolved over the organization's 159-year history to reflect changing technologies and the expanding digital ecosystem in our everyday lives. 

“We are excited to welcome our new members, who join ITU's long history of innovation built on public-private partnerships that have shaped technology's place in society," said Bogdan-Martin. "This multi-stakeholder model of collaboration will continue to be a strong force in the UN system to bridge the digital divide and build an inclusive, safe and sustainable digital future for all." 

The ITU's industry members collaborate with governments, academia, and civil society to develop new international standards and guidelines that shape the future digital economy. ITU members implement projects and initiatives together, extending access to digital services across the world. 

Two-thirds of the ITU's members are from the industry sector, with the rest divided between academia and regional sectors or international organizations. They come from developed and developing economies in regions spanning the globe.

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