Connected Nations: Beyond Our Borders
Only half the people in the world have ever used the internet. According to USAID there are 3.8 billion people who have never had access, and the reality is even worse in some areas.
“In the least developed countries, only 20% of the population has ever used the internet and there are significant divides between men and women, between urban and rural populations, much like what we see in the United States but the problems are a lot starker.”
Tom Koutsky, USAID Senior Connectivity Adviser, says it’s an important problem for the world but also for the United States because we share a common digital future.
“Last year we released a digital strategy where we talk about building open and secure digital ecosystems around the world that is essentially the same strategy we used with connected nation in places like Alaska, Puerto Rico, Nevada, and Texas.”
Part of the strategy includes programs like the “Women Connect” challenge.
“We actually set up a challenge where we said we are looking for local organizations that are taking care of local problems. There are places in India where the local government has made it illegal to use cell phones, so how do you attack the barriers and social norms that women in these communities face.”
Another program called “Youth Mappers” has created a network of over 5 thousand universities in 51 counties to help empower young people to tackle developmental challenges.