Today, half of the world’s population are still not online. While Asia has the highest number of people without access, Africa leads the world in the percentage of the population without connection at 88 percent. Furthermore, in the countries that are connected, male internet users outnumber their female counterparts in every region of the world. The ‘digital divide’ we face globally does not just signify those who have access to the internet and those who do not, the gap also encompasses a number of other discrepancies, including the quality of digital infrastructure in rural communities, the speed of connectivity in remote areas, and the training and skills required to navigate such technology.
Digital technologies continue to spread rapidly while providing a myriad of benefits – boosting economic growth and efficiency, enabling a more productive workforce, improving service delivery, and expanding educational opportunity. However, the advantages brought forth by digital innovation largely depend on internet connectivity, and thus the benefits remain unevenly distributed across the world. In order for everyone to participate in, and contribute to the digital economy, closing the gap in internet access is critical.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity seeks new tools to deploy these existing technologies to remote populations in a sustainable and affordable way. To do so, the initiative welcomes manufactured products and solutions from innovators and makers around the world that:
- Propose innovative methods to bolster and scale the use of existing technologies to accelerate the distribution of connection globally
- Create affordable opportunities for underserved communities to access digital technologies through ready-to-deploy products and strategies
- Promote equitable use of digital services and technology, empowering marginalised communities to overcome barriers to digital literacy, education, and economic opportunities
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