Working Group on Broadband for All:
A Digital Infrastructure Moonshot
How can we close the digital divide to connect and empower Africa?
The Working Group on Broadband for All: A Digital Moonshot Infrastructure for Africa was formed to engage key ICT industry partners, estimate the investment needs, and prepare a roadmap to help countries and development actors coordinate, accelerate and prioritize their efforts to help reach the SDGs by improving digital infrastructure in Africa. Chaired by Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, former CEO of the World Bank, the Working Group developed a thorough roadmap and action plan for 2019, to achieve universal, affordable, and good quality broadband across Africa. This topic was examined with the fundamental understanding that accelerating broadband connectivity so that every individual, business, and government in Africa is digitally enabled is a once-in-a-generation chance to disrupt the growth trajectory and open new opportunities for economic and social development.
Setting the Stage
Progress Towards the Sustainable Development Goals
Many of the Sustainable Development Goals require the intensive use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), notably in the goals to achieve universal identification, more efficient delivery of government services, financial inclusion and job creation. Underlying these goals is target 9c) to significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to internet in LDCs by 2020. While significant progress has been made in this regard, notably in Asia, there is a danger that in Africa, where most of the Least Developed Countries are located (some of them being by affected by Fragility, Conflict, and Violence), this target will be missed on the dimensions of both access and affordability.
Accelerated Action for the Africa Continent
Africa cannot afford to think small nor act slowly. At the incremental pace of economic and social advancement in 2018, too many youths would continue to be denied the opportunity to live up to their potential and African countries will not be able to create the huge number of new jobs needed to match the coming youth bulge, nor provide alternative livelihoods for farmers displaced by industrialization of agriculture and factory workers displaced by automation.
The rise of digital technologies and the digital economy offers a once in a generation chance to disrupt this trajectory – unlocking new pathways for rapid economic growth, innovation, job creation and access to services across the territory for which doing so would have been unimaginable only a decade ago.
The Way Forward
Conclusions and Recommendations
The Working Group’s outcome document: Connecting Africa Through Broadband: A strategy for doubling connectivity by 2021 and reaching universal access by 2030 asserts that achieving the goal of universal affordable access to ICTs for all Africans will require a sustained and committed effort on the part of governments, the private sector and development partners. In short, what is required is a “digital moonshot” where exceptional and coordinated efforts are made to achieve a seemingly impossible goal, including strategic financing, namely to ensure that all Africans have universal and affordable access to ICTs by no later than 2030.
Investment needed to achieve universal access to broadband connectivity by 2030
Approximately 1.1 billion new unique users must be connected to achieve universal, affordable, and good quality broadband internet access by 2030, and an estimated additional $100 billion would be needed to reach this goal over the next decade.
Achieving universal affordable and good quality broadband access across the whole of Africa would require a sustained and committed effort from all stakeholders. No single actor acting alone will be able to meet the 2030 target and carry the burden of a $100 billion investment funding requirement.
The 2019 report sets out a number of policy recommendations focused on four main goals, namely:
Requiring developing the right financial instruments, regulatory environment, business models, and synergies through properly designed partnerships
Ensuring understanding in a wide and comprehensive way across lifelong education pathways that needs to be addressed by all public or private institutions.
Facilitating access to finance and business support services to boost digitally-enabled entrepreneurship and partnerships between African and European industry.
Furthering the development of the digital economy for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Working Group Model
Composition and Activities
This Group was launched in September 2018 during the Broadband Commission’s Annual Fall Meeting. It held its kick off call on December 11th 2018, and the final report was launched during the World Bank Annual Meetings on Thursday, October 17 at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC. The session focused on the report’s roadmap and action plan to achieve Universal Broadband Connectivity in Africa by 2030.
For more information visit the session page.