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How 5G Can Advance the SDGs

A powerful tool for achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is already here. African governments must come together not only to invest in building 5G networks, but also to seize all of the opportunities those networks create – including a quality education for all.

ADDIS ABABA – Ultra-fast 5G wireless technology has been widely touted as a potentially transformative development, on par with the advent of electricity. This is not mere hyperbole. One area where 5G will play a decisive role is in progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted unanimously by the United Nations in 2015.

Consider Sustainable Development Goal 4 – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” – which affects the achievement of all other SDGs, beginning with ending poverty (SDG 1). As the UN Development Programme’s Multidimensional Poverty Index shows, of all of the deprivations that affect the poor – from inadequate nutrition to lack of access to clean water and sanitation – lack of quality education is among the biggest obstacles to upward social mobility.

The adverse effects of educational deprivation intensify as a person ages. And, because the children of uneducated adults are less likely to attend school, deficient education is a leading contributor to intergenerational poverty.

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