25 February 2016: Inmarsat hosted a two hour Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) workshop at its London headquarters on 22 February, to address the issue of digital inclusivity – both in the UK and the developing world.
From left to right: Lord Harris, Valerie Vaz MP, Baroness Neville-Jones, James Cemmell, Chris Locke at Inmarsat HQ.
The session looked at the difficulties of providing digital and other critical services in rural areas and discussed what could be done to increase connectivity – 57% of the world’s population currently remain unconnected, of which 90% are in the least developed countries.
Inmarsat also shared details of its Digital Frontiers programme, working with international partners in Sub-Saharan Africa to bring internet connectivity to local communities in Nigeria and Kenya.
The workshop was chaired by Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) Mr Julian Brazier MP, and included a keynote speech from Chris Locke, founder of Caribou Digital, an organisation dedicated to growing inclusive digital economies, and steering committee member of the Digital Frontiers programme.
Julian Brazier MP commented: “The Prime Minister recently stated that access to the internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity in 21st century Britain. I couldn’t agree more. With an increasing number of business and basic services now digital, those without an internet connection will be left behind.
“I am delighted to see Inmarsat’s innovation in responding to this major issue and hear about all of the great work being done to connect the world and develop the conditions for prosperity overseas and in insecure areas.”
The IPT is an independent, non-lobbying charity that provides a trusted platform for engagement between Parliament and UK business.
The digital arena is just one industry sector that it touches upon, providing an opportunity for parliamentarians and businesses to explore areas such as cyber security and communications legislation.
As well as members from IPT, delegates at the workshop included representatives from UK tech businesses and UK Space, the trade association of the UK space industry.
James Cemmell, Inmarsat Head of Government Affairs, said: “The challenge of making the benefits of the global digital economy available to everyone, everywhere, is a global one.
“History shows that if remote and rural populations are left behind, whilst the cities motor on, serious welfare, resilience and security issues are given opportunity to develop.
“We are delighted to work closely with leading digital inclusivity experts, such as Caribou Digital, to ensure that Inmarsat contributes as effectively as possible and in a way that is sustainable within local economies.”