Mark Zuckerberg and Bono call for the whole world to be online

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and U2 frontman, Bono have called for a new commitment from international leaders and the tech industry to get the whole world online by 2020.

In a co-authored article in the New York Times', titled 'To Unite the earth, connect it' - the pair outline how they believe that improved access to new technologies can help the developing world.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was signed by United Nations member states last week, one of its commitments is to get all of the world online by 2020.

They write that development and connectivity go hand in hand:

"If you want to help people feed, heal, educate and employ themselves around the world, we need to connect the world as well."

The piece discusses the effects that access to the internet is already having in developing countries - and the role that technology is playing in the ongoing migration crisis, "smartphones have made it possible for those left behind to communicate with loved ones across checkpoints and razor wire.

"The Internet connected our world in shared grief as a Syrian child’s death on a beach in Turkey came to symbolise every refugee. Social media carried the message and changed not just popular opinion but public policy."

There is no road map laid out in the piece, it comments that, "There’s no simple solution or silicon bullet" solutions to getting the world online.

It is particularly difficult as many areas do not have access to electricity - this is the case for some 90% of people living in rural Africa.

The pair call on governments and technology leaders to take on the issue.

Facebook is already involved in Internet.org - a project which aims to get remote regions online, Bono and Mr Zuckerberg call for more technology companies and entrepreneurs to take "more responsibility."

"Silicon Valley should look beyond itself and act more on issues like education, health care and the refugee crisis. We challenge the tech industry to do far more for those most marginalised, those trapped in poverty, and those beyond or on the edge of the network."

 

Live since May, Internet.org offers free "basic websites and services to introduce people to the value of the internet."

Facebook works with local mobile providers to provide free internet access to people in remote and under-developed areas.

It has been criticised for only offering a limited version of the internet, and controlling the services which users can access.

Internet.org is one of a number of projects experimenting with the use of internet transmitters attached to balloons orbiting the earth to bring coverage to remote regions.

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