21st Century Financing Models

Working Group Co-Chaired by:

Bocar Ba
Chief Executive Officer, SAMENA Council

Objectives of the Group:

In the developing world, there is limited broadband connectivity in many hard-to-reach areas in Africa, Asia, South America and the Pacific Islands. Consequently, half the world is not online – that is 3.6 ​ billion people. In 2016, the ITU estimated that it would cost up to $450 billion to connect the next 1.5 billion people. Over the last three years, globally, network operators and other industry players have undertaken considerable efforts in expanding infrastructure. However, there are still around 1 billion people who are not cove​red by mobile broadband networks and another 2.7 billion who are within coverage range but are not accessing mobile internet services. The current average broadband penetration in Africa is approximately 30%, and the UN Broadband Commission’s ‘Moonshot for Africa’ Working Group estimates that, in Africa alone, it will cost about $100 billion to achieve ubiquitous broadband adoption by 2030. That estimate is to achieve broadband connectivity with 3G and 4G radio access networks

The funding is a crucial issue to address – both in terms of infrastructure and in terms of meaningful engagement with the Internet and digital economy where coverage is available.

The objective of the Working Group is to provide governments and policymakers with a set of policy recommendations for consideration to foster innovative funding, financing and investment strategies and which can enable and empower existing and new business models to achieve the Commission’s targets for broadband connectivity and adoption​.

The Group was launched during the Broadband Commission Annual Fall Meeting in New York on 22 September 2019

The report will be presented at the Mobile World Congress 2022 session: Financing the Digital Transformation 

Promotional materials for outreach and social media may be downloaded here.


21st Century Financing Models for Bridging Broadband Connectivity Gaps

The Working Group’s output is a rich report, which reflects a true multi-stakeholder collaborative approach to defining a framework of cooperation. The report is fully reflective of the needs to react in accordance with the changes that have transpired due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, in fact, even much earlier. This Working Group highlights the urgent need to overcome infrastructure funding and meaningful connectivity challenges, in order to reach the goals and targets set forth earlier by the Commission. There is much work to be done, and many obstacles to be tackled. Fortunately, this report has now laid a foundation for thinking about financing and funding in a new light in the 21st century

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary of the 21st Century Financing Models for Bridging Broadband Connectivity Gaps Report offers four strategic recommendations to broaden the base of contributors, earmark proceeds from ICT sector participants, reform Universal Service and Access Funds (USAFs) and create an international fund. These strategic recommendations act as a foundation for driving connectivity not only toward the 2025 Targets, but also toward the more optimistic goal of connecting all populations into a larger fabric where individuals and communities are not excluded from the opportunity to live, work and engage with their global peers.


Broadband Commissioners

  1. Ann Aerts, The Novartis Foundation
  2. Amir Dossal, Global Partnerships Forum
  3. Makhtar Diop, IMF ( formally of the World Bank)
  4. Patrick Masambu, ITSO
  5. Inmarsat
  6. Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University
  7. MTN
  8. Stephen Spengler, Intelsat
  9. Mats Granryd, GSMA
  10. Carlos Jarque, Americal Movil
  11. Lacina Koné, Smart Africa
  12. Achim Steiner, UNDP
  13. KT Corporation
  14. Rwanda
  15. ITC
  16. Sunil Mittal, Bharti Airtel
  17. Dato Lee Yee Cheong, UNESCO-ISTIC
  18. Orange
  19. H.E. Mr. Roberto Sanchez, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation of Spain
  20. Former Commissioner Joanna Rubinstein, World Childhood Foundation

EXternal exPERTS

  1. OECD, Ms Verena Weber 
  2. World Economic Forum, Ms Isabelle Mauro, Mr Jonathan Bahmani, Mr Rodrigo Arias 
  3. IFC, Ms Carlo Maria Rossotto 
  4. Mr Bill Tai 
  5. Blue Orange Capital, Mr Amer Baig 
  6. IADB, Mr Antonio García Zaballos