The White House announced Friday that the Global Connect Initiative is working to connect 1.5 billion people to the Internet worldwide by 2020.

“It can change lives by connecting schools to the web, bringing telemedicine to rural health centers, lowering the barriers to political participation, and supplying up-to-date market information to businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Suhas Subramanyam, of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a blog post.

About 60 percent of the world’s population is without Internet and the number increases to 95 percent in the poorest countries, according to Subramanyam.

The 40 countries participating in the initiative decided to treat the Internet as critical infrastructure, similar to roads, bridges, and ports, and increase funding and resources to build Internet infrastructure.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Federal government’s development finance institution, announced that it has invested over $1 billion in Internet connectivity infrastructure projects to support development in 15 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Countries are consulting technical and business experts on how to make the most out of these investments by using cost-saving network designs, Internet infrastructure opportunities, and local skills development and training.

The State Department is working with Tunisia, India, and Argentina to write policies that will increase digital growth and create an open and accessible Internet .

In June, President Obama created the Global Connect International Connectivity Committee (GCICC), made up of 16 Federal agencies and led by the State Department to coordinate United States projects related to worldwide Internet access.

President Obama said that the Global Connect Initiative is “bringing wonders of technology to far corners of the globe, accelerating access to the Internet, [and] bridging the digital divide.”

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Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.