EDISON Alliance releases 2024 digital inclusion impact report as four countries join fray
The EDISON Alliance has disclosed that its global partnership has in the last twelve months positively impacted the lives of nearly 800 million people worldwide using digital public infrastructure.
The Alliance is a multistakeholder platform of leaders from the private sector, governments, academia and civil society, formed in January 2021 during a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF), to help bridge the global digital divide and facilitate access by millions of people to basic social services using digital technologies.
Details of the work which drove up digital inclusion through 320 projects and initiatives in 127 countries are outlined in a 32-page document dubbed the ‘Edison Alliance Impact Report 2024.’
The report has been launched at a time when four African nations, namely Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea and Nigerian, have joined other countries in the EDISON Alliance Lighthouse Network including Bahrain, Bangladesh, Honduras, Rwanda, Togo and the United Arab Emirates to propel digital inclusion engagements. Its launch also comes as WEF 2024 has been holding in Davos, Switzerland.
In a statement announcing the report, the WEF said the development represents an important step in meeting a target set by the Alliance to change and improve the lives of one billion people through “affordable and accessible digital solutions in healthcare, education and financial services,” by 2025. This undertaking by the EDISON Alliance has been tagged the ‘1 Billion Lives Challenge.’
Most of the 784 million people touched by the initiative in the last year are in South Asia (78 percent) and Africa (14 percent), and the number marks an increase of 73 percent from the figure of January 23, which was 454 million lives impacted.
“No matter where you were born or where you live, everybody should have access to the digital services that are necessary to fully participate in 21st-century society,” said Hans Vestberg, founder and chairman of the EDISON Alliance and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Verizon. “Helping all people access our shared future has been my life’s work and it’s what we at Verizon work to address every day.”
A total of 94 million people had access to education services, while 463 million people had access to digital financial services, the report reveals, noting that these figures highlight a major step forward towards addressing the problem of lack of access to education for children as well as financial exclusion for the millions of unbanked in the targeted developing countries.
In his remarks following the release of the report, Sebastian Buckup, member of the WEF Executive Committee, remarked: “Access to digital services is crucial for reducing socioeconomic disparities. By democratizing access to digital technology, we open doors to better education, economic opportunities, and a more inclusive global economy.”
The report, which contains partner testimonials on digital inclusion projects being implemented, says the initiative has recorded considerable impact for national-level projects, citing countries like Rwanda and Bangladesh where projects have been carried out to foster financial inclusion and digital education adapted to the country-specific needs.
Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s minister of ICT and Innovation, affirmed the country has benefited enormously from the EDISON Alliance: “Our involvement has allowed us to draw in partners to support our ambitions to become a cashless economy and ensure financial inclusion and digital skills access for our citizens. We have also been able to engage in peer-to-peer exchanges with other member countries to share best practices on how to accelerate universal digital inclusion.”
Rwanda is working in partnership with Mastercard through its Community Pass program whose digital inclusion strides were explained by co-founder Tara Nathan last October.
The EDISON Alliance Impact Report is an annual publication which chronicles achievements and progress recorded by the coalition in its efforts of bettering the lives of people around the world through transformative digital technologies. It also identifies the challenges that still stand in the way of those efforts and explores ways through which they can be overcome by keeping the momentum of building digital inclusion bridges as a way of attaining the UN SDGs.