LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On International Day of Education, IHS Towers (NYSE: IHS) and UNICEF announced a three-year international partnership to support the Giga initiative’s objective to map internet connectivity of all schools worldwide. Giga is a joint initiative of UNICEF’s Office of Innovation and ITU’s Telecommunications Development Bureau.
Currently, more than a third of the world’s population has no regular access to the Internet. This digital divide, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, results in exclusion and fewer opportunities for young people to learn and fulfil their potential. It also means that millions of children leave school without any digital skills, making it more difficult for them to thrive in local and global economies.
Understanding the global school connectivity landscape is a critical step towards Giga’s ambition of connecting every school to the internet, and every child to learning and development opportunities. IHS Towers’ three-year partnership with UNICEF, which includes a contribution of US $4.5 million will strengthen Giga’s work to map schools and their connectivity levels on an open-source map, using machine learning and satellite imagery. With the support of its partners, Giga has so far mapped more than one million schools in 42 countries. The data identifies gaps in infrastructure and helps develop strong business cases encouraging investors to finance connectivity in the hardest-to-reach communities.
“Connecting schools to the internet can fast track young people’s access to educational resources and opportunities and help drive wider social and economic benefits for whole communities and countries,” said Thomas Davin, UNICEF Director of Innovation. “As COVID-19 continues to amplify inequalities in access to learning, we welcome IHS Towers’ generous and timely commitment to our ambitious goals.”
In addition to the company’s financial contribution, IHS will support Giga by providing relevant tower data, thereby accelerating Giga’s work to identify which schools are connected to the internet and those which are not. IHS’ data will also support Giga’s analysis on the most appropriate technology to connect offline schools, as well as the potential cost of connectivity, to present to public and private investors.
Sam Darwish, IHS Towers Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said, “At IHS Towers we are committed to accelerating mobile and internet connectivity across the emerging markets. We believe that better connections lead to better opportunities, and that education is key to social and economic mobility.
IHS is already a dedicated UNICEF partner in four of our five African markets, but this is our first company-wide partnership, and I could not be prouder of its objectives. By connecting schools in some of the world’s poorest, and most remote regions, the Giga team are enabling a wealth of opportunities for the next generation. We look forward to working with Giga’s current and future partners to provide children with fundamental learning opportunities.”
Notes to Editors:
*UNICEF does not endorse any brand, company, product or service.
Images available to download here.
About IHS Towers
IHS Towers is one of the largest independent owners, operators and developers of shared telecommunications infrastructure in the world by tower count and is the only towerco solely focused on the emerging markets. The Company has more than 38,000 towers pro forma across its 11 markets, including Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Kuwait, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa and Zambia.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
Giga is a partnership between UNICEF and ITU working to connect every school in the world to the Internet by 2030. The initiative maps school connectivity in real-time, advises on appropriate technical solutions, creates models for innovative financing, and supports governments contracting for school connectivity. It is part of UNICEF’s broader Reimagine Education initiative, the UN Secretary General's Common Agenda and Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, and ITU's Partner2 Connect Coalition.