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Global Broadband and Innovations Alliance progresses digital inclusion in rural areas around the globe

Through its work, NetHope built on opportunities for increased collaboration between inclusion and finance initiatives

November 21, 2019

The Global Broadband and Innovations Alliance (GBI) is a 10-year cooperative agreement between NetHope and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). GBI leverages new and existing technologies to support socioeconomic development in USAID-priority countries through (1) extending the reach of broadband internet access, including enhanced mobile networks, into more remote and rural areas; and (2) leveraging the extension of these networks for the delivery of network-enabled, value-added application support across USAID’s entire development portfolio.

The agreement is now in its ninth year of implementation. Over the last nine years, program activities have been generally split into two broad categories: Digital Inclusion (DI) and Digital Finance (DF).

Digital Inclusion projects have helped bring affordable, reliable, and competitively serviced broadband internet access to rural areas in USAID-priority countries in the Middle East (Afghanistan), Africa (Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Zambia), Asia (Indonesia, Cambodia), and the Caribbean (Jamaica).

One aspect of these projects has been the development and deployment of emerging technologies and innovative business models for last-mile connectivity, as well as best-practice policy development and revisions to government regulations.

Digital Finance projects have been co-developed with the USAID Digital Financial Services team and have spanned several humanitarian and development sectors where cash programming can spur empowerment and entrepreneurship. 

Both inclusion and finance-oriented projects have overlapped in many of the communities served, and both have focused on integrating crosscutting initiatives such as gender equality and humanitarian support. Through its work, NetHope built on opportunities for increased collaboration between inclusion and finance initiatives, advancing the notion that ICT access and ICT applications mutually drive each other. 

The results of Demand Aggregation have allowed better access and pricing structures in rural areas, such as our work in Uganda.

Since many NetHope member organizations and technology partners also collaborate with USAID, NetHope has been able to maximize impact by integrating them into program execution, drawing on these organizations’ expertise and support for promising and emerging technologies.

It continues to be the goal of NetHope to serve USAID and its overseas Missions to increase human and technical capacity, catalyze favorable regulatory environments for technology expansion, and develop and deliver projects that promote sustainable, equitable digital development.

We have already shown some of the progress made in Digital Finance in a previous blog post. For an upcoming post, we’d like to illustrate the developments made over the past year on the larger issue of Digital Inclusion, in particular, Demand Aggregation efforts that began in Uganda and now being replicated in Malawi. This installment will outline the success of the initial scope of work in Uganda and why, due to its success, the formula for Demand Aggregation is being replicated elsewhere, helping both NetHope members and the people in some of the countries that have been prioritized for digital inclusion by USAID.


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