COVID-19 Reinforces the Need for Connectivity – World Bank Group

Written by Makhtar Diop

Connectivity is a public good: Let’s act accordingly, now and tomorrow

One and a half billion. That’s the number of children who need online schooling due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).   While some parents worry about the quality of education their children will receive in a virtual setting, online education is still not even a remote possibility for millions of unconnected kids across the world. Amid social distancing, connectivity is what keeps us informed and employed; it maintains our mental and even physical well-being. For those without internet access, the economic and social impact of the pandemic will be even more colossal.

In the battle against COVID-19, digital technologies are front and center.   Countries that do not have the infrastructure for widespread broadband are bracing for the worst. Think about Sub-Saharan Africa, where 60 percent of the population remains out of reach of 4G networks, or countries like Indonesia, where 2G is still the norm.  As the crisis wears on, and pandemics of this kind become more common, some countries will be left behind. For a start, being able to deploy digital health care solutions for detecting COVID-19 can save lives, and this will also be important to protect countries against future pandemics.

From health care to education to businesses of all sizes, there’s no real alternative: governments, donors and the telecom industry must do all they can to connect the unconnected. As this unprecedented crisis has shown, connectivity is a public good. 

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By Alessandra Leone
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