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Spark and Vodafone get behind InternetNZ's digital inclusion action plan

Spark and Vodafone have pledged their support for InternetNZ's action plan for digital inclusion. 

InternetNZ chief executive, Jordan Carter, says both the Spark Foundation and Vodafone New Zealand Foundation were on board.

More than 50 organisations have now signed the plan, which was shared with Government and the public in May this year.

"We’re thrilled to see so many organisations pledging their support and working together to achieve digital inclusion in New Zealand," says Carter.
"Digital inclusion is about making sure everyone can fully participate online. In our national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than it has ever been," he says. 

"This is not just about cost or infrastructure. Kiwis also need to have the skills, motivation, and trust to be online."

The five point plan sets out the priority areas where Government can best direct its efforts and investments. It identifies five areas for action:
- Affordable connectivity
- Getting devices to people who can’t afford them, and addressing accessibility barriers
- Wrap around support for the newly connected
- Digital skills for displaced workers and our small businesses
- Longer term Internet resilience

It also identifies which Government agencies could be responsible for leading each action point, and emphasises the need for cross-agency engagement and coordination. 

Jolie Hodson, Spark NZ CEO, says digital equity is something most of us take for granted. 

"If you can’t get online, then you’re already 10 steps behind the person who can," she says 

"At Spark we want to help all New Zealanders win big in a digital world and together with the Spark Foundation we work on a number of initiatives that aim to bridge the digital divide. 

"This includes providing affordable connectivity through Skinny Jump - our not for profit subsidised broadband programme, recycled laptops through RAD (Recycle a Device) and digital skills for the newly connected through our community partners in the Digital Inclusion Alliance. We also offer digital skills training for displaced workers and our small businesses," Hodson explains. 

"We know there isn’t a single silver bullet that’s going to fix the digital divide on its own, we need radical collaboration between the community, industry and Government - that’s why we’re proud to support Internet NZ’s five-point action plan for digital inclusion in Aotearoa," she says.

Jason Paris, Vodafone NZ CEO, says there is a growing digital divide in terms of affordability and inequity in Aotearoa, which has been exacerbated by the impacts of Covid-19. 

"Use of digital tools and services has been accelerated, and the ability to get online is now almost as essential as running water," he says.
"While telcos offer a range of low-cost mobile and broadband plans and New Zealand is well-served for internet, the growing strain on people's finances is evident so we support InternetNZ’s five point plan for digital inclusion outlining the need for government to place a greater focus on supporting Aotearoa’s most vulnerable citizens.

"Addressing digital exclusion is a broader societal challenge that we all need to collaborate on," says Paris.

"Our Vodafone Foundation is working to improve the lives of New Zealanders via a 10 year commitment to halving the number of disadvantaged youth in Aotearoa. We’re concentrating our efforts on funding innovative and holistic strategies via our community partners, supporting the most excluded and disadvantaged to make the biggest impact."