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Why internet access is key to development


OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth L. Littlefield joined Secretary of State John Kerry, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and other leaders from around the world on Thursday as the State Department convened the Global Connect initiative to expand Internet access around the world.

“The internet is essential to economy prosperity in the 21st century,” Kerry said. The internet is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. So when we talk about infrastructure today, we have to include the internet, right alongside roads and ports and bridges and dams and airports and power grid.” Kerry also cited OPIC’s recent commitment to provide financing to India’s Tikona Digital Networks to support a  low-cost and rapidly scalable wireless broadband network in India.

Tikona is the latest in a series of projects OPIC has supported to expand access to the internet in the developing world.

While internet access is often taken for granted in developing countries, about four billion people worldwide – more than half the global population – are not connected. In this piece on Medium, Littlefield explored the enormous potential benefits of connecting more of these people. “We know that internet access can increase GDP, promote democratization and civic engagement, and even collect and distribute health and education services. These benefits will only increase as technology becomes more embedded in the way we live and work.”

OPIC Director Alexander Hadden, who has worked on multiple projects to expand access to technology, also wrote about the ways OPIC is helping bring more connectivity to the people of the developing world. “The democratization of the internet will not occur until internet services and technologies are affordable to some of the world’s most economically disadvantaged,” Hadden wrote on  the State Department’s DipNote blog.

OPIC’s significant contributions to global connectivity were also cited by Catherine Novelli, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment. “Nearly 70 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people lack affordable Internet access,” Novelli wrote in this piece in The Huffington Post. Novelli said OPIC financing to Tikona Digital Networks will help connect millions of Indians.

See also

Littlefield on MediumUnlocking the potential of four billion people
Hadden on DipNote: Why internet access is key to development
Novelli on The Huffington Post: Paving the way to global connectivity


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