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Want Africa to grow? Get people and businesses online: Africa expert

There's a big opportunity for African countries to take advantage of the pandemic — if they can get online. "Greater internet connectivity can accelerate growth in tremendous ways," says Eurasia Group's top Africa analyst Amaka Anku. One of them would be formalizing the informal sector, which is very large and hard to tax: "It's much easier if people are paying using digital payments," she explains, but governments also need to do their part by cutting red tape to encourage investment.

Anku weighed in during a Global Stage livestream conversation hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with Microsoft during the 76th UN General Assembly.

Learn more: Should internet be free for everyone? A Global Stage debate

Make internet affordable, but not free for all

Free internet for everyone sounds great, but what's really important is for it to be accessible, says Vickie Robinson, head of Microsoft's Airband Initiative to expand broadband access throughout the developing world. The problem, she explains, is that it costs money to build and maintain networks, so no costs for end users could have unintended consequences. "If you have a framework in which the internet is free for all, do we lose some freedoms? Do we lose innovation? Do we lose the use of the internet as a tool for empowerment?" Instead, Robinson would focus only on giving access to people who really need it and can't afford to be online.
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We'll never fix America's internet without measuring access properly, says FCC chair

Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chair of the US Federal Communications Commission, says mapping the real state of America's broadband access is flawed because a single subscriber in a rural area doesn't mean everyone is online. "You don't have to be a data maven to understand that that likely overstates service," she notes, and underscores the need to develop more accurate systems. "We're never going to manage the problems we don't measure."

Rosenworcel weighed in during a Global Stage livestream conversation hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with Microsoft during the 76th UN General Assembly.

Learn more: Should internet be free for everyone? A Global Stage debate

Should internet be free for everyone? A Global Stage debate

Half of the world's population is currently offline, and COVID has further widened the digital gap. Providing more than three billion people with affordable, reliable internet access sounds like a no-brainer, but the devil is in the details. Who'll pay for it, how do we measure success, who should be on board, and what are the potential benefits?

Several experts weighed in during a Global Stage virtual conversation hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with Microsoft during the 76th UN General Assembly, moderated by the UN's Melissa Fleming.


Don't miss our latest event: LIVE on Wednesday Sept 22 11am ET/ 8 am PT:

Unfinished Business: Is the World Really Building Back Better?

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Watch our discussion to decide: should internet access be free?

Access to the internet is a universal right.

Broadband should be free.

Tech companies should foot the bill.

Discuss.

GZERO Media and Microsoft will convene proponents, skeptics, and fence-sitters to debate whether the internet should be free on the next Global Stage event.

Make up your mind in our event September 15th at 11am ET/8am PT.

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Senate's bipartisan $1T infrastructure bill could double US spending

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

The Senate passed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill this week. What do we know about that?

Infrastructure week is finally here, after many years of fits and starts on pressing a bipartisan infrastructure bill. The Senate moved one out of the chamber this week, as well as making progress on President Biden's $3.5 trillion follow-up spending plan. What's in the infrastructure bill? While it's a whole bunch of money for roads, bridges, tunnels, water projects, broadband deployment, airports, ports, all types of physical infrastructure, and it was done on a bipartisan basis.

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Oct 7 panel on digital inclusion in the workforce

Teaching digital skills could empower the workforce the 21st century needs, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday, October 7th at 11a ET/8a PT/4p BST, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — presented a live panel discussion, "Digital Inclusion: Connectivity and Skills for the Next Billion Jobs," about the acceleration of digitalization, the changing workforce, and the need for digital access for all.

The conversation was moderated by Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of The Plug, and our panel included:

  • Kate Behncken, Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies
  • Lisa Lewin, CEO of General Assembly
  • Parag Mehta, Executive Director and Sr Vice President, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
  • Dominique Hyde, Director External Relations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
Also featured: a special appearance by Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Chile.

Sign up to be notified about future GZERO Media events.

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