2019 ​​Broadband Commission Session at the UNCTAD eCommerce Week


April 2, 2019


Geneva, Switzerland

Relevant Resources

Trusted Universal Connectivity and Innovative Partnerships to Drive Inclusive Digital Transformation

Since its launch by​ ITU and UNESCO in 2010, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has been advocating for broadband infrastructure deployment constituting a fundamental layer and the backbone of digital transformation. Through the Broadband Advocacy Targets, flagship publications such as the State of broadband report and the activities of its expert Working Groups, the Commission advocates and highlights the need to think of bold and innovative approaches in connecting the global population. Throughout its 9 years of activities, it became a leading example of a multi-stakeholder partnership, comprising top industry leaders, governments, international agencies and development organizations.

At the end of 2018, we surpassed the 50/50 milestone for Internet use. More than half of the global population is now online. However, we face the challenge of achieving universal connectivity, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to be connected and benefit from the digital economy. Access to Internet and use of the information and communications technologies (ICTs) are empowering advantages in the 21st century – and inclusivity is key. Connecting the remaining offline population will require different approaches than those used to bring the first 50% online. In this context, how to secure funding for the roll-out of networks in those rural and unconnected areas which may not appear commercially viable? How to ensure that investments made allow all market participants to benefit fairly? What are the types of innovative partnerships required in the post 50-50 environment? How to ensure safe use and online protection of the most vulnerable population when complex and cutting edge technologies are increasingly becoming part of the everyday life of users?

The session touched upon these important questions and reflected on the key policy reforms and investments needed at the national and regional levels for connecting the remaining offline population to ensure the digital inclusion of all for a thriving digital economy. It addressed in particular the following topics:

  • The 50-50 moment: Assessment and Next Steps
  • 100% connectivity: Requirements, opportunities, challenges, the work of the Broadband Commission
  • Ways of addressing the challenges and existing best practices: innovative partnerships, investment models, etc.


  • Mr Lars Erik Forsberg, Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission
  • Mr James Howe, Senior Adviser, International Trade Centre
  • Mr Ashley Lumsden, Head of Government Relations, Huawei Technologies, UK & Ireland Office
  • Ms Imme Philbeck, Chief Economist and Director Sector Development, Samena Telecommunications Council


  • Ms Nancy Sundberg, Senior Programme Officer, IEE/RME, Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU
  • Ms Anna Polomska, Project Officer, ITU/Broadband Commission

Session Organizers:

  • Alia El Ashram, Broadband Commission Secretariat
  • Laura Broek, Broadband Commission Secretariat
  • Romaine Girod, Broadband Commission Secretariat