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Kerry Calls for Push to Boost Connectivity in Poor Countries

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a Global Connect Initiative event, April 14, 2016, at the World Bank in Washington.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is urging governments and industries to create enabling environments that spur connectivity, while promoting a U.S. plan to bring 1.5 billion people who lack Internet access online by 2020.

“Out of every five people in the world, there remain three without Internet access in 2016. It is unacceptable,” Kerry said Thursday at a World Bank event.

He said the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation is providing up to $171 million for a low cost and rapidly scalable wireless broadband network in India. He added, "We are announcing more than a billion dollars in U.S. government financing and loans with our development agency partners.”

Last September, during the U.N. General Assembly, the State Department launched the “Global Connect Initiative,” aimed to bring an additional 1.5 billion people online by 2020.

Kerry said Washington plans to work with international development banks to help funding infrastructure in poor countries.

The United States plans to designate “digital economy officers” to 275 American embassies and diplomatic posts in the globe to identify and break down barriers to help people become connected, according to the State Department.

A World Bank report said for every 10 percent increase in broadband access, a developing country can see up to two percent rise in GDP.