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2019

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) released its 2019 Gender Gap Mobile Report which hinges on 20 000 face-to-face surveys commissioned by GSMA Intelligence across 18 low and middle-income countries. According to the report, 80% of women in low and middle-income countries own mobile devices. And, 48% of those women use mobile to get internet access. ‘We are seeing significantly increased mobile access for women, however in an increasingly connected world, women are still being left behind,’ noted Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA. ‘While mobile connectivity is spreading quickly, it is not spreading equally. Unequal access to mobile technology threatens to exacerbate the inequalities women already experience.’ Such inequality is attributed to affordability, literacy and digital skills, a perceived lack of relevance, and safety and security. The study suggests that closing the gender gaps in low and middle-income countries could be an important commercial opportunity for the mobile industry since it could provide an estimated additional US$140 billion in revenue to the over the next five years.

UK Space Agency funding of £18 million has been awarded to OneWeb, a UK business through the European Space Agency according toa report. This is to support the development of next generation satellite constellation with the vision to provide affordable global internet coverage.

In approximation, according to the report, the system will be composed of 650 satellites initially and will scale to 900 satellites over time. The initiative is poised to leverage the use of cost effective spacecraft launch to deploy satellites that could ensure global internet connectivity to individuals and businesses across the world.

According to a report, Jamaica’s Universal Service Fund (USF) has as its target in 2019 to set up more community Access Points (CAP) to a broaden access to internet services to citizens and businesses across the island states. This year’s deployment will complement efforts over the years which has seen the establishment of over 300 CAP sites through the USF.

According to Kwan Wilson, director of projects at the agency, the fund will also focus on increasing the number of free Wi-Fi zones on top of the already implemented secured public hotspots currently in the high traffic areas of the country. This according to him will facilitate greater access.

During his speech at the opening ceremony of the  42nd session of the Governing Council of International Fund for Agricultural Development, Pope Francis underscored the importance of science and technology in eradicating poverty and hunger. ‘[I]t is necessary to promote a ‘science with conscience’ and place technology truly at the service of the poor. On the other hand, new technologies should not be contrasted with local cultures and traditional knowledge, but rather should complement and act in synergy with them, noted the Pope. The session, which was convened under the theme of ‘rural innovation and entrepreneurship’, focused on the role of social entrepreneurship and innovation in promoting resilience and addressing global challenges as well as the impact of new technology on the future of farming.

The World Government Summit in co-operation with PricewaterhouseCoopers published a paper on Public Sector Readiness in the Age of Disruption at the World Government Summit held in Dubai between 10-12 February. The first part of the study addresses the main public sector imperatives for today and tomorrow? To this aim, the paper pinpoints seven imperatives for public sector organisations to improve their readiness and the lessons learned. The seven imperatives are: a) enabling trust and transparency, b) building disruptive public-private partnerships, c) balancing innovation and regulation, d) making decisions enabled by big data, e) being digital, f) building ‘renaissance’ talent, and g) building holistic, citizen-centered organisational performance. For each imperative, the paper provides calls to action.The second part focuses on the implications of these imperatives for public sector leadership to design and implement disruptive agendas. Finally, the paper provides a Public Sector Disruption Readiness Index to help governments and leaders measure their level of fitness and preparedness.

According to a report, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new toolkit to support the development of high-speed Internet services in rural communities. The toolkit defines 27 USDA programmes that aim to ‘facilitate the expansion of broadband, including grants, loans and technical assistance from multiple mission areas of the USDA’.

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, Anne Hazlett, stressed the importance of the user-friendly toolkit by stating ‘high-speed broadband e-connectivity is becoming more and more essential to doing business, delivering health care, and, for school children, doing homework in rural communities’.

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