London, 25 January 2022 (TDI): UNICEF and IHS Towers have announced a three-year international partnership to map the internet connectivity of every school worldwide as part of the Giga initiative.

The Giga project is a joint initiative of UNICEF’s Office of Innovation and the International Telecommunication Union’s Telecommunications Development Bureau.

At present, more than a third of the world’s population does not gain constant access to the Internet. By enlarging the digital divide, COVID-19 affected the children and provided fewer opportunities for them to achieve their maximum potential.

In addition, the lack of digital skills among children makes them less likely to participate in both local and global economies.

Understanding the global school connectivity landscape is crucial to Giga’s mission to connect every school to the internet and provide every child with the opportunity to learn and grow.

UNICEF’s three-year partnership with IHS Towers, which includes a contribution of US $4.5 million, will allow Giga to map schools and their connectivity levels through the use of machine learning and satellite imagery.

Through its partners, Giga has mapped more than one million schools across 42 countries. By identifying infrastructure gaps and developing strong business cases, data can enable connectivity in hard-to-reach areas.

Connecting schools with the internet can improve access to academic resources and opportunities for students. It can also generate economic and social benefits for robust communities and countries, according to UNICEF’s Director of Innovation, Thomas Davin.

“COVID-19 continues amplifying the inequalities in access to a more superior education, so we appreciate IHS Tower’s timely commitment to our ambitious goals.”

IHS will not merely provide financial support to Giga but will additionally provide relevant tower data. This will assist Giga in identifying which schools are online and which ones are not.

Furthermore, Giga will analyze IHS’s data to determine the most effective technology to connect offline schools. In addition, it will analyze the potential cost of connectivity and present it to public and private investors.

We at IHS Towers are committed to accelerating mobile and internet connectivity in emerging markets. According to Sam Darwish, Chairman and CEO of IHS Towers, better connections lead to increased opportunities, and education is critical to social and economic mobility.

IHS is at present a dedicated UNICEF partner in African markets, but this is the first company-wide partnership. By connecting schools in some of the world’s most impoverished and most remote regions, the Giga team is enabling a wealth of opportunities for the next generation.