Connecting the Other Half
History of the Targets
The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development – a high-powered and influential community since 2012 is measuring and reporting in its flagship ‘State of Broadband’ annual report on a set of ambitious Broadband Targets for 2015 which was the first advocacy framework in line with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), predecessor of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In 2018, given the shift towards new UN development Agenda 2030 and new challenges of a digital world, the Commission re-evaluated and launched new framework of Targets 2025 in support of “Connecting the Other Half” of the world’s population. These targets seek to expand broadband infrastructure, and Internet access and use by populations around the world, in support of achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations.
Half the world’s population is expected to be connected to the Internet by the end of 2019 at the latest. This leaves the other half – an estimated 3.8 billion people – unconnected and unable to benefit from key social and economic resources in our expanding digital world. In response, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has set seven ambitious targets for 2025.
MAKE BROADBAND POLICY UNIVERSAL
By 2025, all countries should have a funded National Broadband Plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access and Service (UAS) Definition.
This builds on the Commission’s existing target for national broadband plans, with an increased emphasis on implementation capacity through the specification that plans/strategies are funded. Since the Commission set its initial target in 2011 for the establishment of national broadband plans, these measures have been undertaken by a majority of countries.
MAKE BROADBAND AFFORDABLE
By 2025, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries at less than 2% of monthly Gross National Income (GNI) per capita.
This lowers the Commission’s existing affordability threshold target, from less than 5% to less than 2% of monthly gross national income per capita – enabling broadband services (fixed or mobile) to be affordable to a much greater number of people. While affordability has improved significantly since the Commission set its initial target in 2011, costs remain high in many countries. This new target will particularly assist lower income groups in developing and least developed countries to gain connectivity.
GET PEOPLE ONLINE
By 2025, Broadband-Internet user penetration should reach: a) 75% worldwide b) 65% in developing countries c) 35% in Least Developed Countries.
These ambitious values set targets aimed at connecting everyone, everywhere – with a special focus on developing country and least developed country populations, which are the most vulnerable to being unconnected. Combined with the gender equality goal of Target 7, the results will be 75% of women worldwide using the Internet, as well as 65% in developing countries, and 35% in least developed countries.
ACQUIRE MINIMUM DIGITAL SKILLS AND LITERACY
By 2025, 60% of youth and adults should have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills.
People need digital skills to access, use and benefit from broadband / Internet resources; while an increase in people with digital skills is necessary to enable broadband / Internet user penetration to increase. Additionally, digital skills are becoming increasingly critically important to accessing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
USE DIGITAL FINANCIAL SERVICES
By 2025, 40% of the world’s population should be using digital financial services.
Digital financial services present a tremendous opportunity to swiftly increase the number of people using broadband and the Internet, and realizing the social and economic benefits of these digital resources. Currently, two billion adults are still without access to a bank account, and yet some 1.6 billion of them have access to a mobile phone, creating the potential for e-finance access – and with this access to economic empowerment.
GET BUSINESSES ONLINE
By 2025, overcome unconnectedness of Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) by 50%, by sector
This target is particularly ambitious for MSMEs in those sectors that remain largely unconnected, and incentivizes well-connected sectors to close the final gap. As an example, a sector in which MSMEs are 80% unconnected, will have only 40% unconnected by 2025, and a sector in which MSMEs are 30% unconnected will have only 15% unconnected by 2025. Currently, MSMEs have lower levels of connectivity than large enterprises in the same sectors. Making sure that MSMEs are connected improves their competitiveness in expanding digital economies where online business transactions are increasingly the norm.
ACHIEVE GENDER EQUALITY IN ACCESS TO BROADBAND
By 2025, gender equality should be achieved across all targets
In all areas of broadband accessibility and use, women and girls are left behind. Gender equality must be realized in order to achieve all 2025 Targets – including Internet users, digital skills, digital financial services and MSMEs – and bring broadband and Internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere. In 2013, the Broadband Commission drew attention to the importance of gender equality among Internet users, by introducing an additional target, so that the benefits of broadband Internet reach everyone. As a result, from 2013 onwards, important disaggregated data has been collected to inform effective decision-making by policy makers. While the gender gap has decreased in many developed countries, it has expanded in many developing countries – creating a specific need to support digital gender equality in these countries.