Global Internet Connectivity by 2020?

Earlier this week (October 5th) Facebook announced that they have partnered with Eutelsat to build a satellite that will allow more Africans to get online. The two companies have signed a multi-year agreement with Spacecom to provide satellite broadband access for large parts of West, East and Southern Africa. The service is set to start in the second half of 2016. Two years ago Facebook announced the launch of, in an effort to accelerate the rate of connectivity in parts of the developing world. Chris Daniels, VP of said “Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and we believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting people in Africa.”

This latest announcement was literally days after Mark Zuckerberg issued a statement to catalyse world leaders into prioritising universal internet access. Facebook have joined with international advocacy organisation ONE campaign and other organisations (including the Gates Foundation and Richard Branson) to set up a Connectivity Declaration.

It is not the first company to launch plans to connect the world with Elon Musk also planning to provide high-speed wifi via satellites and Google’s Project Loon which will release thousands of balloons into the stratosphere. Connecttheworld was also high on the agenda at the United Nation’s Global Goals. In a Facebook post Zuckerberg said “We also know that the internet is a vital enabler of jobs, growth and opportunity. And research tells us that for every 10 people connected to the internet, about 1 is lifted out of poverty.” I’m not sure where this research is?

The Declaration says “When people have access to the tools and knowledge of the internet, they have access to opportunities that make life better for all of us. The internet is critical to fighting injustice, sharing new ideas and helping entrepreneurs start jobs.” The sceptics would say that the reason that the likes of Facebook and Microsoft are supporting a global internet is so they can merely profit further. In fact, Zuckerberg had an incredibly busy week with world leaders, a couple of days after the UN event he hosted Indian prime minister Narendi Modi at Facebook Headquarters in California. Modi is a true advocate of the internet and apparently set up his Twitter and Facebook profiles long before he became Prime Minister – he now has millions of followers.

With a population in excess of 1.2 billion, India is a massive market for Facebook, and it is interesting that Zuckerberg has met Modi, particularly after recent criticism of which has been accused of quashing Indian social networks.

The United Nation’s Broadband Commission new report The State of Broadband 2015 as a Foundation for Sustainable Development says that “The milestone of 4 billion Internet users is unlikely to be achieved before 2020. Future Internet users are likely to come from less well-educated, less urban backgrounds and from a base in other languages and dialects. Growth in the languages available online for some of the main web-based services is not keeping pace with growth in overall Internet usage.”

So it’s highly unlikely that Mark, Bill, Richard, Bono et al will get their dream of a global internet by 2020. One thing is for sure, the debate around their altruist versus capitalistic reasons for supporting a connected world will continue. As a techno-optimist I fully support global connectivity. Sure there are positives and negatives, but I feel the potential power of education, e-commerce, and mobilsation far outstrips the darker side of the net including cultural imperialism, corruption and crime.

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Norwegian Asylum Seeker Quiz Show Parody

The Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS) have just started a campaign to highlight the awful realities of many people who are rejected when seeking asylum.

A fictitious talent show, So You Think you Can Stay,tells the stories of the ‘contestants’ who are all based on real asylum cases that NOAD has engaged with through their legal aid service.

Mari Seilskjær, advisor at NOAS said “We want to show the stories of some of those who fled to Norway in our talent show. We will present people like Amir, who based on our experience, should be granted residence permit in Norway, but nevertheless has had his asylum application refused. Rejected asylum seekers represent a demographic that often gets negative attention by the media. We want to convey the stories of some of these people and show that many of these people have good reason to fear persecution in their homeland.”

The video reminds me of another very successful campaign in Norway produced by SAIH, Who Wants to Be a Volunteer. The film was produced pro bono by Fantefilm and took a total of three months to complete including planning, filming and editing. It is good to see development organisations experimenting with creative storytelling techniques to educate people about issues that are sometimes misrepresented by the national media.

Visit the campaign website for more information:


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Collecting SDG priorities for Humans of MY World

Two young men from the Netherlands are currently on a mammoth bike journey from Amsterdam to Cape Town in South Africa.  Jilt van Schayik (the Netherlands’ United Nations Youth Representative) and his friend Teun Meulepas have embarked on this impressive trip as part of their Building Bridges project (#BB2015UN). The bike tour will draw attention to youth priorities for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to-be-determined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Jilt and Teun will be travelling more than 9000 miles through 20 countries to reach the general public and local governments, to ask what vision they have for the world’s future.

Jilt and Teun have just passed through the Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain and are about to arrive in North Africa (video of votes collected in a public square in Madrid available here). They will be biking over the next six months in order to collect more votes and to collect stories from local people. According to Jilt, the Netherlands’ UN Youth Representative, “It is vital that we draw attention to the importance of the new sustainable development agenda and particularly that we engage women and youth in the decision making process. It is my goal to meet with as many people as possible on this trip and document what their priorities are. As the Netherlands’ Youth Ambassador, I want to bring these stories back to the UN to make sure the peoples’ voices are heard.”

Jilt and Teun have teamed up with 20 Building Bridges youth Ambassadors to facilitate events in cities and towns along their route to spread awareness about the goals and MY World votes. They will be meeting with local, national, and international representatives along the way to advocate on behalf of the use of the survey results when determining and implementing the sustainable development goals this fall. The project is supported by the Netherlands Government and all its missions along the way, as well as UN Women, UNDESA’s focal point on youth, and many civil societies and other partners.

The UN’s MY World survey has been collecting votes from the public via internet, mobile, and hard-copy ballots. According to Mitchell Toomey, Director of the Millennium Campaign (which oversees MY World), “This survey is the largest public engagement initiative worldwide. As a result, over 7 million votes have been collected, nearly 6 million of which were collected on paper ballots and nearly 70% of which were collected from youth (ages 30 and under).”

Humans of MY World Facebook Community

On route to Cape Town, Jilt and Teun will be collecting photos and stories of what people are voting for and why. The photos and stories will be shared on the Humans of MY World Facebook page and on Twitter with the hashtag #BB2015UN. The Facebook page currently has over 32,000 likes, which I am sure will increase as Jilt and Teun continue their epic trip.

#BB2015UN  — How to Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved via social media. You can fill out the MY World survey (, take a selfie with your top vote, and tweet it using the hashtag #BB2015UN and @myworld2015.

View the online data based on gender, age, and location here:

The data is also aggregated based on country responses here:

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International Development Videos 2015

Over the last few years I’ve curated a few videos about International Development and/or Fundraising that have caught my eye. Here’s the link for the International Development Videos 2014 and Top 20 International Development Videos. I hope you enjoy them.

Oxfam – How to Lose a Friend in 3 minutes


Charity:Water – I am Water

Save The Children Norway – Norwegian Midwives Reacting to Birth Meter

WaterAid – Priest

UNICEF – #ENDChildMarriageNow

WaterAid – Across the Tracks

Save The Children – A World Without Healthcare

UNICEF – Draw My Life – Amal’s story

Oxfam – I Need a Dollar

UNICEF – Nepal Earthquake

UNICEF Sweden – The Sound of Death

WaterAid – Manpons

Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers – So You Think You Can Stay

Save the Children – Hidden Cameras Capture Horror

Save the Children – Hidden Camera – Behind the Scenes

War Child UK – Duty of Care – Protecting Children in War



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Wateraid announce winners for their Sh2Orts competition


WaterAid and WorldView have announced the winners in their global sH2Orts competition.

After 21 shortlisted films clocked up more than 60,000 views in just three weeks, the final five winners have been announced ahead of World Water Day on 22 March. The films were assessed by a highly regarded judging panel, comprising Downton Abbey star and WaterAid ambassador Hugh Bonneville; Indian film director and actor Shekhar Kapur; British director and filmmaker Philip Bloom; British director Gurinder Chadha; Nigerian filmmaker Jeta Amata; and Head of Documentaries at the Guardian, Charlie Phillips.

Entries for the competition, came from 33 different countries across the globe, ranging from Nepal to Nigeria and Brazil to Bangladesh.

The winners

The winner was ‘Moonwalk’ by Sven Harding in South Africa, which highlights how, every day, women and children collectively walk as far as to the moon and back 16 times to fetch water.

The three runners-up were:

Recovery’, a music video by Josta Hopps in Sierra Leone about the importance of clean water in the fight against Ebola.

Joe’s Morning’, by 11-year-old Indie Mark from the UK, features a Lego man called Joe who faces a morning without water.

Right to Water’, produced by Sohel Rana from Bangladesh and filmed with a hidden camera, shows women’s challenges in collecting water.

The People’s Choice award went to Gaurav Dhwaj Khadka from Nepal, whose entry Paani (Water) managed to attract more than 26,000 views in 3 weeks. Unfortunately my favourite Priest didn’t win. But I’m going to include it here anyway J

You can watch the winning films at

Catherine Feltham from Wateraid said “There was such a great variety of powerful films, which really got the judges, us and the public thinking.  It’s been fantastic seeing the buzz on social media over the past few weeks around the films and hearing the impact they’ve had on such a range of people. We’re thrilled that they resonated with so many different audiences, which is evident from the 60,000+ views they received from across the world in just three weeks…”​

Marion Simpson, Content Manager from WorldView, added “Great storytelling is incredibly hard to achieve, especially in a one-minute film, however, the imagination and creativity shown in the making of these films was truly astounding and brought the theme to life.”

The five winners will receive cameras donated by Fujifilm and the top two winners also won masterclasses with Shekhar Kapur and WorldView.


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