EDISON Alliance Expands to Close Global Digital Gap

  • Honduras, Togo and the UAE join EDISON’s Lighthouse Countries Network for digital inclusion.
  • EDISON Alliance crosses the halfway mark in its aim to positively impact 1 billion lives through digital inclusion.
  • Rwanda’s EDISON Alliance partnerships yield skills training, digital payments and micro-credit solutions, as well as smartphone financing.
  • Learn more about the Sustainable Development Impact Meetings 2023 here and share on social media using the hashtag #SDIM23

The EDISON Alliance, a global initiative launched by the World Economic Forum to advance digital inclusion and accessibility, announced today the integration of Honduras, Togo and the United Arab Emirates as partners in its Lighthouse Countries Network.

These nations join the existing founding members – Bahrain, Bangladesh and Rwanda – which are already making significant progress in advancing digital inclusion. The three countries are actively working to improve millions of lives in their respective regions, by 2025, through measures such as sponsorships, provision of digital devices, and digital literacy and training. Together, they form a united front in the network’s mission to accelerate the achievement of national digital inclusion goals in connectivity, health, education and finance.

“The EDISON Alliance Lighthouse Countries Network is gaining momentum with the inclusion of Honduras, Togo, alongside the UAE, intensifying our mission to impact one billion lives,” said Sebastian Buckup, Head of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “Our founding Lighthouse Countries, such as Rwanda, are utilizing EDISON’s partners to move toward a cashless society. Bangladesh is fortifying its education system through digital technology, and Bahrain is promoting gender equality in STEM. As we broaden our reach, we bridge the digital divide and foster global connections.”

Rwanda, for example, has harnessed the power of the EDISON Alliance platform by forging vital partnerships within the alliance. Collaboration with Mastercard has yielded promising initiatives, including skill training programmes for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the development of low-cost digital payment solutions for merchants, and forthcoming micro-credit and inventory lending opportunities in collaboration with fast-moving consumer goods companies.

An estimated 2.6 billion people worldwide still lack internet connectivity, which denies them access to crucial life services such as education, healthcare and financial opportunities. Driven by partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society, the EDISON Alliance has reached a significant milestone by crossing the halfway mark in its ambitious endeavour to positively impact 1 billion lives through over 200 digital inclusion initiatives spanning 90 countries.

The Lighthouse Countries Network was established in May 2022 in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Rwanda, serving as a global platform for implementing alliance projects on a local scale. The expansion of the network marks a significant step forward in advancing the goals of the alliance’s 1 Billion Lives Challenge. The network is poised to foster new partnerships, scale initiatives and further digital inclusion objectives at the national level.

“We are firmly committed to including all social actors in the digital economy,” said Luther Castillo Harry, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation of Honduras. “Honduras’s integration into the EDISON Alliance will strengthen synergies with global collaborators to achieve this common vision.”

“By leveraging technology, Togo is paving the way for an effective and efficient social protection program that fosters socio-economic advancement and gender equality,” added Cina Lawson, Minister of Digital Economy and Transformation of Togo. “By leveraging the alliance’s global network and resources, Togo aspires to accelerate its digital transformation agenda, ensuring that every citizen benefits from the power of digital technology and achieves a life of dignity and empowerment.”

“The UAE’s inclusion in the EDISON Alliance is proof of our commitment to ensuring the well-being of its society and its proactive steps and goals,” said Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications of the United Arab Emirates. “In the UAE, we believe that everyone deserves to be empowered and leverage digital means for better education while simultaneously addressing key barriers to universal digital inclusion. The alliance’s goals align with the UAE’s approaches in the fields of technology, education, healthcare, finance and the future, enhancing our national initiatives to expand the impact of digital reach and ensure accessibility, increase digital literacy and create a significant global impact.”

About the EDISON Alliance

The World Economic Forum’s EDISON Alliance brings together leaders from across industries and governments to mobilize a global movement for digital inclusion. The alliance is working with partners to empower policy-makers and relevant stakeholders with the tools they need to accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development to overcome poverty (SDG 1), increase access to ICT and affordable access to the internet in the least developed countries (SDG 9.c), reduce the digital divide (SDG 10) and promote social inclusion (SDG 16).

About the Sustainable Development Impact Meetings 2023

The World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Meetings 2023 are taking place on 18-22 September in New York. The meetings will reflect on progress made on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and revive momentum for multistakeholder action. More than 1,000 business leaders, policy-makers, leaders from international and civil society organizations, innovators and social entrepreneurs will come together in person to advance concrete progress on the SDGs.

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