Dubai Cares, the UAE-based global philanthropic organization, and UNICEF announced today a global partnership, through UNICEF's flagship global youth initiative Generation Unlimited, to accelerate efforts to provide access to digital connectivity for every young person. The announcement was made during RewirEdX, a global virtual conference on education, organized on 15 and 16 December 2020 and co-hosted by Dubai Cares and Expo 2020 Dubai, in close coordination with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC). The conference featured Ministers of Education, high profile speakers and panelists from U.N agencies, international NGOs, academia, as well as representatives from the public and private sector from around the world, who discussed challenges and opportunities in global education.
Under this partnership, Dubai Cares will be supporting Giga, an initiative launched last year and led by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), to connect every school in the world to the internet. Empowering local entrepreneurs and leveraging the resources from the private and public sectors in new ways is essential to closing the digital divide.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 360 million young people currently do not have access to the internet. This results in exclusion, fewer resources to learn, and limited opportunities for the most vulnerable children and youth to fulfill their potential. Improved connectivity will increase access to information, opportunity, and choice, enabling generations of school children to take part in shaping their own futures.
Dubai Cares’ USD 2.5 million commitment to Giga complements the UAE-based global philanthropic organization’s efforts in driving forward the Global Declaration on Connectivity that will be launched during Expo 2020 Dubai to promote access to connectivity for learning and livelihoods as a right of every young person around the world.
Recognizing the importance of increasing universal digital connectivity to accelerate the provision of online access to learning, Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares and Member of its Board of Directors said: “Universal access to the Internet is a paramount goal that all countries share. Without connectivity, billions of people will be denied access to the 21st century’s essential tools for communication, information, innovation and entrepreneurship. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that digital connectivity is critical to societal resilience and business continuity in times of crisis. Going online can offer children and youth access to boundless beneficial information, facilitate new ways of interactive learning, enrich life experiences and foster meaningful cultural exchanges.”
“Through our commitment to Giga, we aim to bring the power of meaningful connectivity to fast-track children and young people's access to educational resources and opportunities so they are equipped with the digital resources they need, and are empowered to take control of their own lives. Dubai Cares has been a committed partner supporting Generation Unlimited through its Leadership Council since its inception in 2018. We share a strong commitment with UNICEF and the world to closing the digital divide and to making the vision outlined in the Declaration on digital connectivity a reality,” added Dr. Al Gurg, on the sidelines of the RewirEdX virtual conference.
Dubai Cares’ partnership with Generation Unlimited will accelerate the implementation of Giga in 6 countries – Rwanda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kygyrzstan - and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. The partnership will empower entrepreneurs to develop and scale new connectivity solutions and to produce open source digital public goods that provide essential services, skills and information to young people. In addition to funding, Dubai Cares will assist with the development of business cases for connectivity, leveraging its expertise and network of partners. Giga and Dubai Cares will work together to attract additional financing and build new partnerships to increase resources for connectivity.
“COVID-19 has underscored the deepening digital divide and the inequalities it creates,” said Roberto Benes, Director of Generation Unlimited. “We need to leverage private and public partners in new, innovative ways to finance and scale connectivity to bring youth and their communities online. This partnership with Dubai Cares through Giga, will build local ecosystems and convene leaders to accelerate financial commitments for connectivity, bringing us closer to bridging the digital divide.”