The Power of Connectivity
Bringing the power of connectivity to fast track access to educational resources and opportunities
NIAMEY (Niger), 5th August 2020 - The COVID-19 outbreak has created a climate that poses a colossal threat, now and in the future, to children and their families - a grim reality especially compounded among children already affected by poverty, disability, or social exclusion. Experts predict that, given high contagion risks and the time needed to develop and distribute a vaccine, COVID-19 is poised to be a long-term global health and welfare crisis.
The global school shutdowns and health crisis exacerbate already challenging realities for lower-income countries: with the limited or non-existent infrastructure to connect to distance learning and essential services, their current education and economic stability as well as future opportunities and welfare are significantly set back. This current situation proves how critical it is to now accelerate connectivity, online learning and other initiatives for children and their communities and drive economic stimulus.
GIGA, an initiative launched by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union in September 2019 to connect every school to the Inter net and every young person to information, opportunity and choice, is supporting the immediate response to COVID19, as well as looking at how connectivity can create stronger infrastructures of hope and opportunity in the time after COVID.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have selected Niger for the Giga initiative, which aims to bring the power of meaningful connectivity to fast track young people’s access to educational resources and opportunities. Niger was selected regarding its ICT policy that helped improve access to the Internet and digital services in the country.
The Giga initiative is a great project for us because it comes to complement the already existing efforts we had of last mile connectivity to different essential services like schools
Among existing Government initiatives to boost internet connectivity in the country include The Niger 2.0 Smart Villages Project. It aims to promote a promising approach to bringing meaningful connectivity and initiating digital transformation in rural and remote parts of the country. The Niger 2.0 Smart Village project has set out to significantly improve the lives of people in rural Niger, achieving clear milestones in meeting sustainable development goals, aiming for significant gains in health, nutrition and education for the population as a whole.
“The Giga initiative is a great project for us because it comes to complement the already existing efforts we had of last mile connectivity to different essential services like schools. It will also help us to get more partners as we will be having shar ed objectives and responsibilities to connect some of these priority services,” explained Ibrahima Guimba Saidou, Minister & CEO of the Nigerien National Agency for the Information Society – ANSI. “ANSI will be providing coordination support for the program to get more partners embarking on this initiative.”
The current situation proves how critical it is to now accelerate connectivity, online learning and other initiatives for children and their communities
In Niger, Giga will work in partnership with the government and the private sector to map schools to identify connectivity gaps; build affordable and sustainable finance models; implement fit-for-purpose infrastructure to connect schools (and ultimately every community and every citizen) and empower learning and other skills and services via appropriate Digital Public Goods.