Geneva, Switzerland, 18 January 2023 – Since its launch in January 2021, the EDISON Alliance, convened by the World Economic Forum, has had a positive impact on the lives of 454 million people in 90 countries by activating over 250 initiatives in health, finance and education.
Through its 1 Billion Lives Challenge, the alliance is accelerating digital inclusion solutions by harnessing commitments from government, the private sector, civil society, academia and international organizations globally, improving affordability, usability and access to digital services and connectivity for 1 billion people by 2025.
“In today’s world, digital inclusion is critical to meaningful opportunity in life. It is foundational to economic growth and the Sustainable Development Goals. We might say that universal digital inclusion by 2030 is our ‘SDG Zero’. With 2.7 billion people still offline, we have tremendous amounts of work to do. But through their commitment, collaboration and execution, the progress made by our EDISON Alliance partners has not only improved hundreds of millions of lives and families already – they have demonstrated that universal digital inclusion is an achievable goal,” said Derek O’Halloran, Head, Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and New Value Creation, World Economic Forum.
According to a report published by the International Telecommunication Union, universal connectivity remains a distant prospect in some countries of Africa and South Asia, where only about 40% of the population is online. With a strong focus on countries with the most profound need for digital inclusion, the four countries with the most improved lives are in South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia). The combined population of these five countries is over 2 billion people – equivalent to a fourth of the world population.
“There is much work to be done, but by working together, more than 100 CEOs, ministers, heads of international organizations, civil society leaders, innovators and universities behind the EDISON Alliance can bring the whole world online and further the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the process,” said Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO, Verizon Communications.
In 2021, 1.4 billion adults were unbanked. The EDISON Alliance provided 280 million unserved and underserved people with access to digital financial services such as e-banking, mobile wallets and e-payments. The alliance brought 90 million people to access digital healthcare services such as remote/connected care, telehealth platforms and telemedicine services. In 2021, 244 million children and young people aged between 6 and 18 worldwide were out of school. The alliance enabled 18 million people and youth to access online quality education, remote learning solutions and job skills training.
Bridging the digital divide is a complex challenge. However, after achieving 45% of its 1 Billion Lives Challenge, with three full years until 2025, the EDISON Alliance believes in the importance of demonstrating that it is achievable. United with its board members and a strong community of champions, the alliance encourages members from the public and private sectors, countries, governments, academia, international organizations and civil society to join to further digital inclusion worldwide.
To hear directly from EDISON Alliance members on how they are creating an impact in health, finance and education in remote parts of the world, join the press conference scheduled on 18 January 2023, 12.00 CET, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos, Switzerland.
About the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 will convene the world’s foremost leaders under the theme, Cooperation in a Fragmented World.
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