US House of Reps Passes Digital GAP Act
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Digital Global Access Policy Act or the Digital GAP Act (H.R. 600) on January 24, just a day after the bill was reintroduced by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA-39). The legislation is aimed at promoting internet access in developing countries to spur economic growth and job creation, reduce poverty and improve health while advancing U.S. interests.

In today’s technology-driven world, internet access is a major driver of economic and social improvement. However, 4.2 billion people remain offline — about 60 percent of the world’s population, most of whom are in developing countries. In these areas, internet access is hindered by inadequate infrastructure and a poor regulatory environment, stifling the potential for sustainable growth and development.

The Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act seeks to promote first-time access to mobile or broadband internet for at least 1.5 billion people in both urban and rural areas of developing countries by 2020. It aims to do this is a variety of ways, including:
  • Removing tax and regulatory barriers to internet access.
  • Promoting internet deployment and related coordination, capacity building, and build-once policies and approaches in developing countries.
  • Promoting the use of the internet to increase economic growth and trade, along with democracy, government accountability, transparency and human rights.
  • Promoting inclusive internet policymaking for women, people with disabilities, minorities, low-income and marginalized groups and underserved populations.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce noted that women and girls are disproportionately affected by this digital gap. He said that “bringing 500 million women online could contribute up to $18 billion in GDP growth across 144 countries. That is how you reduce poverty; that is how you advance U.S. interests.”

In addition to Rep. Royce, Representatives Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA-5), Grace Meng (D-NY-6) and Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) were also listed as original cosponsors of the bill.

The Borgen Project commends the House for making this legislation a priority in the new year and urges the Senate to move swiftly to get this bill to the President’s desk.

– Kim Thelwell

UNICEF Innovation Fund
Starting in February, UNICEF will be accepting applications for its Innovation Fund. The funding will go to companies, teams or ideas from the developing world that help empower the local youth.

To be eligible for funding, the recipient’s project must use open source technology. This means that it is open to the public and can be modified by anyone.

UNICEF’s Innovation Principles stresses the importance of open source tech. According to UNICEF’s website, open source technology permits a global community of developers and designers to tweak and improve the code and design elements.

This allows the latest and most effective methods to be applied to the tech at no additional cost. It facilitates the creation of a public good by a global community.

In addition to the open source requirement, the tech must help local youth through the Innovation Fund’s three portfolio areas:

The first is that the project must be for people under the age of 25. Technology for this group can help break down the barriers that restrict access to information. It can also allow youth to connect with each other to share and scale their own solutions.

The second portfolio area of the Innovation Fund is real time information. With constantly updating data, decision makers will be more informed. Inefficiencies, disparities and restrictions can be resolved quickly.

The third area is infrastructure. UNICEF’s Innovation Fund aims to increase access to information for youth by improving infrastructure like connectivity, sensors and transport.

The open source requirement and the three portfolio areas represent the fund’s overall theme of access. The Innovation Fund desires that all children have unrestricted access to information.

According to its website, UNICEF believes “access to information, particularly basic, life-enhancing information, is a human right.”

This access to life-improving information is typically much more difficult for children living in poverty.

UNICEF Innovation Co-Lead, Christopher Fabian, stressed this when he said to Panarmenian.net: “We’ll be identifying opportunities from countries around the world including some that may not see a lot of capital investment in technology start-ups.”

He went on to say, “We are hoping to identify communities of problem-solvers and help them develop simple solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing children.”

So far, the Innovation Fund has raised $9 million for technology that helps young people. These funds have gone to various projects that improve the lives of children, like the U-Report project in Burkina Faso.

U-Report increases real-time access to information to help young women and girls in Burkina Faso. It connects the local girls so they can better cope with harmful traditional practices.

It also allows the girls to share information with each other, such as how to practice safe sex and improve familial practices.

UNICEF’s Innovation Fund helps empower youth in the developing world by increasing access to information through open source technology.

Andrew Wildes

Sources: Innovation Fund Backgrounder, OpenSource, Panarmenian, UNICEF Innovation Fund 1, UNICEF Innovation Fund 2, UNICEF Innovation Fund 3
Picture: Google Images

The_Global_Partnership_for_Education2015 has been an active year for global education. The fourth Global Goal in the new Global Goals for 2030 focuses on education. But according to Results, The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is the only international partnership exclusively dedicated to achieving education for all.

The Global Partnership for Education had five major accomplishments over the course of 2015.

1. GPE welcomed Bangladesh and the Republic of Congo as new partners.

Bangladesh became the 60th developing partner of the GPE. As a GPE member country, Bangladesh is now eligible for a Program Implementation Grant worth $100 million dollars over the course of three years. The Congo is the 61st developing country partner of GPE. The GPE is working with the Congo to give all children a basic ten-year education.

2. GPE calculated that it takes only $1.18 to pay for a day of primary to secondary education for a child in a developing country.

This calculation comes from The Education for All Global Monitoring Report and IMF figures for historical US inflation. According to GPE, 88 percent of $1.18 will be provided by developing countries themselves, making the international funding gap just 14 cents a day per child.

3. GPE received new funding from Canada.

Canada decided to double its contribution to the GPE. They agreed to donate $98 million dollars during the 2015-2018 replenishment period. More than half of GPE’s financing to countries in 2014 went to conflict-affected countries.

4. GPE allocated more than $245 million in grants and distributed more than $400 million.

GPE approved $245 million in grants fro Bangladesh, Mozambique, Nepal and Rwanda. It plans to use this money to provide imperative funding and momentum toward quality education for children.

5. GPE adopted a new strategy for the next five years.

The new strategic plan sets out contributions that GPE will make to focus on the Global Goal for education. The new results framework will be used to measure achievements and ensure accountability for results. GPE is invested in delivering the Global Goal of quality education for all.

GPE hopes to continue to make a positive impact in global education and to reach the global education goal. Their new strategy for 2016 identifies their biggest challenges to achieving quality education for children around the world.

Jordan Connell

Sources: Global Partnership for Education, Results
Photo: Global Partnership for Education