Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg pledges internet for refugee camps

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Mark Zuckerberg announces plans to bring Facebook to refugee camps.

UNITED NATIONS, United States: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates on Saturday threw their weight behind the goal of bringing internet access to everyone in the world by 2020.

“I believe Internet access is essential for achieving humanity’s #globalgoals,” reads the Connectivity Declaration released by One and signed by several high-profile people and philanthrophic organizations, including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The declaration was released as the United Nations considered the Global Goals, a development blueprint aimed at solving pressing social and economic challenges. He said: “By connecting more people in developing countries, we have an opportunity to create more than 140 million new jobs, lift 160 million people out of poverty, and give more than 600 million children access to affordable learning tools.” Mr Zuckerberg also announced with Bono, the ‘Connectivity Declaration’ which encourages governments to provide internet access for all people on the planet within the next five years, with the aim of alleviating poverty. He said Facebook is partnering with the U.N. agency for refugees to bring the Internet to refugee camps. “Connectivity will help refugees better access support from the aid community and maintain their links to families,” he said. Zuckerberg appeared at the UN this week to discuss the Internet component of those goals and explain that “connecting the world is one of the fundamental challenges of our generation.” “Today over half the people on this planet don’t have access,” Zuckerberg wrote in a joint New York Times op-ed with Bono. “That is not good for anyone — not for the disempowered and disconnected, and not for the other half, whose commerce and security depend on having stable societies.” Zuckerberg pointed to farmers in Africa who use the mobile Web to track inventory and prices, women in South America who use phones to get health information, and refugees who use smartphones to stay in touch with family during their journey to Europe.

The 31-year-old entrepreneur pointed to the role of the internet in empowering otherwise voiceless people in places such as Syria, where civil war is producing a refugee exodus. “A ‘like’ or a post won’t stop a tank or a bullet, but when people are connected, we have the chance to build a common global community with a shared understanding — and that’s a powerful force,” he said. Other signatories included Jimmy Wales, co-founder of free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and U2 front man Bono on behalf of his One anti-poverty campaign. Jamie Drummond, global executive director of One which spearheaded the push, called on every country to come up with an “urgent plan” to meet the internet access goals.

Releasing the report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that more than $25 billion has been committed so far to meeting the goals, led by $3.3 billion from the United States and large pledges from Canada, Germany and Sweden. This is why we support initiatives like President Obama’s Power Africa plan and the bipartisan Electrify Africa Act in Congress, as well as the African Development Bank’s investments in renewable energy.” Facebook has been working to expand Internet global Internet access via its Internet.org.

Melinda Gates, speaking to reporters in advance of the launch, said that the health and education of girls was critical to anti-poverty efforts and that the issue had not been sufficiently emphasized in the UN’s previous Millennium Development Goals. “When we look at investing our own money or asking governments to invest their money… we have to make sure that those investments make a difference,” she said. But Silicon Valley must “do far more for those most marginalized, those trapped in poverty, and those beyond or on the edge of the network,” Zuckerberg and Bono wrote.

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