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The year (almost) everything went online: Highlights from 2020

2020 was a year like no other. In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, the lack of affordable access and meaningful connectivity prevented billions from keeping children enrolled in school through virtual classes, maintaining business activity, and staying informed on the latest health information and advice. The current public health emergency has revealed the reality of digital inequality – one we at A4AI have been aware of – highlighting that, now, more than ever, urgent action is needed.

Despite many challenges, A4AI had a busy and productive year, and we are proud of the strides we made in 2020 to achieve internet access for all. Here we share highlights of our accomplishments during the year:

Research output - report covers of Covid-19 Policy Brief on Internet Access and Affordability, 2020 Affordability Report, Meaningful Connectivity, and From luxury to lifeline: Reducing the cost of mobile devices to reach universal internet access
  • Led active national multi-stakeholder coalitions working to advance affordable access through policy change across eight countries in three regions. 
    • In Latin America
      • A4AI’s advocacy on digital infrastructure was fruitful. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean incorporated our inputs into the approved eLAC2022 Digital Agenda, which sets the regional digital cooperation goals for the next two years.
      • Our advocacy on meaningful connectivity resonated with our members. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, with the Inter-American Development Bank and Microsoft, used it as a framework in a study that found at least 77 million rural inhabitants in the region cannot access internet services that satisfy minimal quality standards. 
      • At the country-level, A4AI re-engaged with the Dominican Republic, invited by the new government to support the development and design of their new National Broadband Plan. 
    • In Africa:
      • The new Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, which included recommendations made by the A4AI Nigeria Coalition, was formally approved and published by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. The A4AI Nigeria Coalition was a regular feature in a business news radio show to discuss affordable access as well as campaign against the proposed Communications Service Tax (see updated CST Infographic). 
      • A4AI and its Mozambique Coalition supported the development of the new Strategic Plan for the Universal Service and Access Fund of Mozambique, to be approved and implemented in the next three years. 
    • In Asia:
Screen capture of three different Zoom meetings and webinars on laptops and desktop computer Screen shot of press coverage in desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet. Cover photo of the Connecting Humanity report.

Just like everyone else, A4AI had to adjust to the new realities of working, yet we overcame the challenges. We are proud of all that we accomplished together with our members and partners in 2020, and we look forward to trailblazing forward in 2021. 

For more updates on our work, follow us on Twitter at @a4a_internet and sign up to our newsletter.