Connecting learners, empowering generations

The Economist Events


Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021
from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM (UTC)

Registration Required


The Economist Events




Data & Technology

Sustainable Development

Greater internet connectivity has been crucial in contributing to the socioeconomic development of communities and countries—accelerating educational access, improving learning outcomes and opening career avenues. These benefits are reflected in higher income levels and an overall improvement in quality of life.

The potential gains to societies are huge, but reaping the benefits of connectivity also requires overcoming hurdles to expansion. Gaps remain in teachers’ and learners’ digital skills, with training needed to help them adapt to advanced learning methods. Digital infrastructure varies across regions, and concerns about online safety have surfaced, too.

The COVID-19 crisis has proved how internet connectivity is significant for all essential activities and has also turned education and learning into a deep crisis. According to the International Telecommunication Union and UNICEF, two thirds of the world’s school-age children have no internet access at home. The importance of internet access for young people regardless of their physical location—whether at schools, homes, public spaces, or anywhere else—is clearer than ever.

The lack of connectivity and other tools has unimaginable spillover effects translating into exclusion, with economic and social loss to individuals and societies and widening existing gaps based on age, gender, income and skills. Digital connectivity remains a crucial investment to prepare countries for a responsible and equitable digital progress and economic growth. And without collective action between the public and private sectors and across borders, this value of connectivity for learning may remain a distant reality. So, where do we start?

Join The Economist Events for ‘Connecting learners, empowering generations,’ a virtual panel discussion. Some of the key questions addressed will include:

  • What are the potential quantifiable gains we can aim to achieve for businesses, economies and societies?
  • Why do we lag behind on digital connectivity? What needs to change—and how?
  • How can we boost crucial public and private investment for connectivity and to equip learners with the right tools?
  • What can be done to accelerate coordinated effort for improved digital infrastructure, affordability and technology related challenges?
  • What are the key recommendations from different sectors and what needs to happen next?

The session, programmed by The Economist Events and sponsored by Ericsson as part of the Giga initiative, will convene a panel of experts to address this critical issue of accelerating digital learning for children and youth, and explore how a new framework and better investment could ensure that every young person has safe access to information, opportunity and choice.


3:00 – 3:05pm BST – Opening remarks
Moderator – Sacha Nauta, Public Policy Editor, The Economist

3:05pm – 3:15pm BST – Key report findings
Research presented by Shivangi Jain, EMEA Lead Economist, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)
Moderator – Sacha Nauta, Public Policy Editor, The Economist

3:15pm – 3:55pm BST – Panel discussion
Moderator – Sacha Nauta, Public Policy Editor, The Economist
Speaker – Mamta Murthi, Vice President for Human Development, The World Bank
Speaker – Fadi Pharaon, Senior Vice President and Head of Market Area Middle East & Africa, Ericsson

More speakers to be announced

3:55pm – 4:00pm BST – Closing remarks
Moderator – Sacha Nauta, Public Policy Editor, The Economist


The Economist Events