“Lighthouse Countries” including Bahrain, Bangladesh and Rwanda will work with UNDP to promote digital inclusion

DAVOS-KLOSTERS: The EDISON Alliance for digital inclusion has launched a new programme to accelerate digital inclusion in the “life critical” sectors of health, education and finance.

A network of “Lighthouse Countries” including Bahrain, Bangladesh and Rwanda will work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the new programme in their respective countries. By facilitating new partnerships, incentivizing projects and unlocking capital at scale, the Lighthouse Countries Network will further the EDISON Alliance’s 1 billion lives vision of providing affordable digital solutions by 2025.

“More than a third of the world is still offline and left behind,” said Derek O’Halloran, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum. “Many countries are making great progress, but much work still needs to be done. The Lighthouse Country Network will provide a platform for countries both to learn from each other, showcase their successes and access a global network of partners and resources to accelerate their national goals”. O’Halloran said.

Inclusive digital transformation is a huge mission for any country that cannot be achieved by governments alone, and would require active participation from the local ecosystem – both public and private sector, said Achim Steiner, Administrator, UNDP. “We are glad to support the Lighthouse Countries Network, and we hope it will bring new momentum to more countries,” he said.

Rwanda continues to move towards a cashless economy supported by mobile payments. Working with the EDISON Alliance as a Lighthouse Country, it will prioritize innovative partnerships towards equitable and affordable access to smart mobile devices. “We are excited about the partnership possibilities on the important issue of devices, financial inclusion and broader digitalization that we can achieve through the EDISON Alliance,” said Paula Ingabire, Minister for ICT and Innovation, Rwanda.

Bahrain is prioritizing digital inclusion in education to provide digital skills and literacy training to students and to empower women and girls to enter Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers. The country will work with fellow EDISON Alliance member, Women in Tech, towards these goals. “Bahrain’s partnership with the EDISON Alliance reflects the Kingdom’s strong commitment to building an economy of ideas and creativity in which we invest in human capital and in which individuals make a return on investment in themselves,” said Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance and National Economy, Bahrain.

Bangladesh is focusing on delivering affordable digital education to students by equipping teachers with digital skills. “Through the Lighthouse Countries Network, we hope to share our learnings with countries facing similar challenges, and partner with fellow EDISON Alliance Champions to better prepare our teachers and students with skills, education, employment and entrepreneurship – narrowing the digital skills gap and offering more opportunities for youth in Bangladesh,” said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, Minister of State for ICT, Bangladesh.

The World Economic Forum’s EDISON Alliance brings together leaders from across industries and governments to mobilize a global movement for digital inclusion. Less than one year since launching its 1 Billion Lives Challenge, the alliance has doubled the number of commitments from governments, organizations and companies to accelerate digitally inclusive solutions. This includes recent commitments from Bahrain, BBVA, Bharti Enterprises, Crescent Enterprises, Darsel, Dell, Digital Opportunity Trust, Ericsson, Inmarsat, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Kredivo, NITI Aayog, and Nokia.

 

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