The United Nations (UN) has demanded for a tripling of pledges aimed at filling the global digitalisation gap, asking countries and the private sector to hike the funding to $100 billion by 2026.

As per data from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the UN’s telecom agency, around 2.7 billion people around the world were offline in 2022. The digital connectivity divide separating the least developed countries from the rest of the world is widening, the ITU stated, launching an appeal for far more resources towards ensuring meaningful connectivity and digitalisation in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs).

ITU further stated that the world’s 46 least developed countries are home to nearly one-third of the global offline population, lamenting that the internet is considered to be affordable in just two of those nations.

To rectify the situation, the ITU launched the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition in September 2021. It is aimed at using public-private partnerships to help boost digitalisation in the world’s hardest-to-connect communities, including LDCs, and developing countries that are landlocked or small island states.

The coalition began mobilising direct funding in February 2022 and has so far raked in pledges amounting to $30 billion, including $12 billion to bring LDCs online as quickly as possible, the ITU said. The ITU has now launched a worldwide appeal calling to increase the value of pledges for digitalising the world from the current $30 billion to $100 billion by 2026.