Excerpts of Remarks by Secretary Kerry at the Global Connect Initiative, April 14, 2016

Secretary Kerry at the Global Connect Initiative

April 14, 2016

The internet is essential to economy prosperity in the 21st century. As President Obama said last year, the internet is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. So when we talk about infrastructure today, we have to include the internet, right alongside roads and ports and bridges and dams and airports and power grid.

The bottom line to take away from this that investment in the internet access is actually an investment in people.

Out of every five people in the world, there remain three without internet access in 2016. It’s unacceptable. And in the poorest countries the figure can top 95 percent. With that reality in mind, last year, the State Department launched the Global Connect Initiative precisely to bring at least an additional 1.5 billion people online by 2020.

And this initiative has three interrelated goals: One, to encourage finance ministers to make internet access central to all development and growth initiatives. Two, to work in cooperation with multilateral development institutions in order to double public and private lending for connectivity and digital technologies. And three, to harness the knowledge, skills, and resources of the tech community itself to implement solutions for high-speed, affordable broadband access.

We know from hard experience that not every story has a happy ending – and none of us has the power, as much as we would like to, to change that overnight. But what we do have within our power is to act so that a lot more people in a lot more countries are lifted up by the incredible technological advances of our age. And we have it within our power to steadily increase connectivity through the decisions that we make in our national budgets and in our international agendas. And we have it in our power to harness new ideas so that we can not only communicate faster, but also more efficiently; but also, importantly, widen the circle of online opportunity and ensure that fewer and fewer of our global neighbors are left behind.