Digital Infrastructure Investment Initiative: Bridging the finance gap for Universal Meaningful Connectivity

3rd DEWG Meeting - 11 June 2024 - Blue Tree Hotel, São Luís – Brasil

06/05/2024 4:10 PM


Digital technology is a key driver of economic and societal transformation. Increases in connectivity penetration are associated with GDP growth (1) and 70% of the SDG indicators have a digital component, underscoring the integral role of digitalization in fostering prosperity and sustainable development.

Yet, the persistent digital divide leaves an estimated 2.6 billion individuals unconnected, representing a significant barrier to global progress and equitable participation in the digital economy. With the lack of physical infrastructure being one of the main reasons for this connectivity gap, urgent action is needed to optimize investments in digital infrastructure.

As a knowledge partner to the G20 Brazil Presidency of the Digital Economy Working Group (G20 DEWG), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has joined forces with multilateral financial institutions (2) to launch the Digital Infrastructure Investment Initiative (DIII). This initiative unites a coalition of stakeholders—including governments, the private sector, and plurilateral/multilateral financial institutions—with the goal of identifying innovative financing mechanisms and instruments that can support the achievement of universal, meaningful connectivity by 2030.

This event will provide a unique opportunity to update participants on the current situation and the challenges associated with the digital infrastructure investment gap. Participants will gain insights into the implications of the digital divide and will have the opportunity to learn about specific frameworks and approaches to developing innovative financial mechanisms and instruments to help chart a path towards universal meaningful connectivity, social progress, and economic growth.

(1) A 1% increase in mobile broadband penetration yields a 0.15% increase in GDP, while a 1% increase in fixed broadband penetration results in a 0.08% rise in GDP (ITU, 2018)

(2) The African Development Bank (AfDB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and the World Bank Group.


11 June


Blue Tree Hotel, São Luís


To inform delegates about the challenges and opportunities surrounding digital infrastructure investments, providing a comprehensive understanding of the current landscape.
To present the initiative's findings and showcase examples of innovative financial mechanisms that can fast-track our progress toward the goal of universal and meaningful connectivity.
To create a dynamic forum for interactive discussions and the exchange of ideas, facilitating a collaborative environment where stakeholders can unite to bridge the digital divide and promote inclusive digital access.

Session structure:

1. Introduction and Background: The first segment will address the connectivity gap, its dynamics, and broader implications. A panel discussion will highlight challenges and opportunities for increasing investments in digital infrastructure to bridge the digital divide.

2. Interactive Roundtable: Presentation of the DIII and its Main Findings: The second segment will introduce the DIII initiative and its pivotal findings. Progress made for each of the questions (1) Understanding the Digital Gap and Opportunity, (2) Developing a Digital Infrastructure Investment Country Assessment Framework, and (3) Identifying innovative financing mechanisms and instruments will be presented, facilitating interactive discussion with the audience.
3. Case Study: Innovative Financing in School Connectivity: The final segment will showcase a practical case of innovative finance, spotlighting Brazil's experience in financing school connectivity using Universal Service Funds and proceeds from spectrum auctions.



14h30 – 14h40:

Welcome remarks

Hermano Barros Tercius, Secretary of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, Brazil

Alex Wong, Senior Advisor, Strategic Engagement and Initiatives, ITU

14h40 – 15h30:

Panel Discussion. Connecting the Unconnected: Challenges and Opportunities

Marconi Edson F. Viana, Manager - Department of Telecommunications, BNDES

Mohan Vivekanandan, Executive Management, DBSA (TBC)

Luis Guillermo Alarcón López, Lead Telecommunications Specialist, IDB

Thierry Geiger, Senior Economist & Head, Data and Analytics Division, ITU

Reactions by:

Jeremy West, Digital Security and Safety Unit, OECD

15h30 – 16h00:

Coffee break

16h00 – 17h30:

Roundtable. The Digital Infrastructure Investment Initiative: A Collective Effort to Catalyze Investments into Digital Infrastructure.

16:00 – 16:10: Overview of the Initiative

Alex Wong, Senior Advisor, Strategic Engagement and Initiatives, ITU

16:10 – 17:30: Presentation of results and discussion with the audience

- Understand the Digital Gap and Opportunity

- Develop a Digital Infrastructure Investment Country Assessment Framework

- Identify innovative financing mechanisms and instruments

Lucas Frenay, Consultant, ITU

Maikel Wilms, Consultant, ITU

17h30 – 17h55:

Brazil Case Study: Innovative Financing in School Connectivity

Daniel B. Cavalcanti, Coordinator - Digital and Telecommunications Policies, Ministry of Communications, Brazil

Graziela Castello, Coordinator of Sectoral Studies and Qualitative Methods, Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society (

Alex Wong, Senior Advisor, Strategic Engagement and Initiatives, ITU

17h55 – 18h00:

Conclusions and closing remarks

Hermano Barros Tercius, Secretary of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, Brazil

Alex Wong, Senior Advisor, Strategic Engagement and Initiatives, ITU