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ITU's Partner2Connect tops US$50 billion for global connectivity at WSIS+20 Forum High Level Event

ITU, the UN Agency for Digital Technologies, announced today US$4.8 billion dollars in investment commitments toward global connectivity. The announcement brings the total pledges aimed at closing the digital divide through ITU's Partner2Connect Digital Coalition (P2C) to USD 50.96 billion, over half the USD 100 billion goal set for 2026.

The pledges to Partner2Connect, ITU's platform to advance universal meaningful connectivity, were announced during the opening day of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)+20 Forum High-Level Event in Geneva, Switzerland.

Among the new commitments announced at the WSIS Forum event are pledges that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance digital access, adoption and inclusion.

"Closing the digital divide requires a team effort, and today we scored a huge win for global connectivity," said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “I am thrilled to see these amazing new commitments and that we have united P2C and WSIS to break through the halfway point in our goal to help bring the benefits of digital connectivity to everyone, everywhere."

Commitments for connectivity and digital inclusion

The new commitments announced​ today include:

AT&T: Help 25 million people in the hardest-to-connect areas in the United States to get and stay connected by 2030 through a commitment of USD 3 billion. This brings to USD 5 billion the total committed by AT&T since 2021 to narrow the digital divide. The additional USD 3 billion commitment will address the main barriers to connectivity – affordability and adoption – for those who need it most.

Government of Canada: Investment in computing infrastructure to support AI businesses and researchers in Canada through the CAD 2 billion (USD 1.46 billion) AI Compute Access Fund. Also, an additional commitment to invest CAD 400 million (USD 292 million) in the adoption of AI across Canada's economy; help small and medium size enterprises introduce AI into their businesses; protect workers with skills development; and to create a new Canadian AI Safe Institute to help Canada better understand and protect against the risks of advanced AI systems.

Elle International: Three pledges worth USD 106 million to improve the quality of life of 20 million women and girls in South Africa through the provision of digital platforms, smart solutions, data, and AI models that drive connectivity, digital transformation, and open science in women's health.

Microsoft: A new pledge to support projects and prioritize partnerships to rapidly accelerate how people with disabilities are included in and represented by the systems, designs and features of technology, including AI. This raises to five the total number of P2C commitments from Microsoft.

“Because of the leadership, vision and ambition of P2C's pledgers, millions of people will be given the opportunity to have more accessible, more affordable digital technologies for socio-economic growth, improved health and everything that makes connectivity meaningful," said Bogdan-Martin. “It's extremely exciting to see new pledges begin to leverage the power of artificial intelligence to transform the inclusive digital societies we all aspire to build."

Connecting the WSIS and P2C communities

The WSIS+20 Forum High-Level Event is meeting from 27 to 31 May to address challenges and log achievements in the two decades since the multi-stakeholder WSIS process was established.

At the WSIS Forum event, government ministers and officials from over 160 countries as well as representatives from the private sector, civil society, academia, the technical community, the UN System and intergovernmental organizations are analysing key trends shaping the world, including artificial intelligence, space for sustainable development, and other fast-evolving topics.

The WSIS+20 Forum High-Level Event outcome will inform the UN General Assembly WSIS+20 review scheduled for September 2025 to identify how WSIS processes can support the Global Digital Compact expected to be agreed as part of the Summit of the Future later this year.

The Partner2Connect Digital Coalition is aligned with the WSIS “Action Lines" – a set of 11 priority areas for UN efforts to connect technology and development that also provide guidance to policymakers and other stakeholders. P2C is designed to address core issues related to access, adoption, value creation, and investments in connectivity, reflecting the key objectives outlined in the digital cooperation framework established by WSIS two decades ago.

ITU has called for USD 100 billion in overall investments by 2026 to provide the expertise and resources required to extend universal, meaningful connectivity and sustainable digital transformation to every corner of the globe.