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World Economic Forum's EDISON Initiative: What's New?

Photo by Evangeline Shaw / Unsplash

New York, NY, USA - More than 600 business leaders, policymakers, and others are expected to attend SDIM 23 in New York in September 2023 to discuss progress on the UN SDGs.

Why it matters:

The digital divide persists, with 2.6 billion people worldwide lacking access to the internet.

With support from the World Economic Forum, the EDISON Alliance is targeting this divide to reach 1 billion people.

The Key Points

  • The network of lighthouse countries recently expanded to include Honduras, Togo, and the United Arab Emirates.

  • Sebastian Buckup of the World Economic Forum highlights the goal of reaching 1 billion people.
  • EDISON's initiatives span 90 countries and include more than 200 digital projects.

The Big Picture

As digitalization gains momentum globally, the role of entities like the EDISON Alliance becomes critical.

Launched with the support of the World Economic Forum, the Alliance now includes countries such as Honduras, Togo, and the United Arab Emirates in its network of Lighthouse Countries, joined by founding members such as Bahrain, Bangladesh, and Rwanda.

There's a concerted push to promote digital inclusion by 2025. This includes strategies such as sponsorship, distribution of digital devices, and training programs.

Different network members have different digital approaches: Rwanda focuses on transitioning to a cashless economy, Bangladesh emphasizes digital education, and Bahrain prioritizes gender equality in STEM.

Rwanda's partnership with Mastercard focuses on building the capacity of MSMEs and formulating low-cost digital payment options.

Meanwhile, Honduras is advocating for total societal engagement in its digital framework.

Togo is using technology for social good, and the United Arab Emirates is emphasizing education to overcome barriers to widespread digital access.

The Lighthouse Countries Network, launched in May 2022, is the result of a collaboration between UNDP and the government of Rwanda.

The platform emphasizes the role of partnerships in expanding digital access, intending to localize the implementation of global projects and underscore its commitment to the 1 Billion Lives Challenge.