Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates on Saturday threw their weight and resources behind the goal of bringing Internet access to everyone in the world by 2020. However, the details about the plan have not been officially divulged.
He said wide internet access “needs to be at the heart of the global development strategy” to address new challenges and needs of the new generation.
Mark Zuckerberg has issued a call to action that seeks to pressure world leaders to make universal internet access a priority.
Bringing Internet access to refugee camps is just one aspect of the effort. But for most people in the world, the Internet is seen as a way of pulling themselves out of poverty.
The announcement came during Zuckerberg’s visit to the Sustainable Development Summit held by the United Nations where he gave a keynote speech, met with the President of the United Nations General Assembly and reportedly gave Bono a virtual tour of “We the Peoples Hub”. The group works with governments and telecommunications companies to offer free limited Internet access in developing countries. “More than 4 billion people don’t have a voice online – but you do”, Zuckerberg said.
In order to provide people with tools, knowledge and opportunities, the role of the internet is very crucial, he added. Earlier this year, Facebook launched a program called Internet.org, which enables those in emerging markets to access certain websites for free. He described the Internet as “the key driver of social and economic progress in our time”, saying that it provided “the chance to build a common global community with a shared understanding”. This will help the refugees to communicate easily while they are seeking resettlement.
Bill and Melinda Gates, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales have also backed the campaign by signing the declaration.
Zuckerberg is expected to host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday for a town hall Q&A session at Facebook’s headquarters.
“If someone can’t afford to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have a few access than none at all“, Zuckerberg says.