NEW YORK – Today I had the privilege of attending a high-level panel discussion entitled “Development in the Digital Age” in the context of the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York, where the U.S. State Department launched its much-anticipated Global Connect initiative.
For so many people, access to social and economic opportunities now depends on access to the Internet. Unfortunately, three out of five of the world’s people – 90 percent of whom live in the developing world – do not have Internet access, creating a widening gulf between those who have and those who have not. That’s why the Global Connect initiative is such an important step in closing the digital divide, and in building more inclusive societies that make the most of all of their human talent, in the United States and across the globe.
The Global Connect initiative will address this challenge in three specific ways. First, it will build mainstream support for the proposition that the Internet is fundamental to the economy of every country and should be a central element in global development efforts. Second, it will provide a platform for the private sector, international organizations, and development organizations to coordinate their activities internationally. Finally, it will assist governments around the world in identifying policy and regulatory frameworks that enable digital technologies and all the economic and innovation benefits that result.
It is an incredibly important time for the United States and other countries to have a high-level, global conversation about how digital technologies can drive economic growth, innovation, and higher living standards, particularly in the developing world. We commend the U.S. State Department for its leadership in provoking this conversation and providing a roadmap for the international community to make progress on these issues. On behalf of our member companies, who are also committed to deploying digital technologies to power growth and development around the world, we look forward to working with the State Department and the rest of the U.S. government to do so.