UNICEF's Giga NFTs to connect schools in developing countries to the Internet

UNICEF’s Giga NFTs to connect schools in developing countries to the Internet

Developed countries often take the ubiquity of the Internet for granted. But the reality is that some 2.9 billion people still don’t have a connection to the World Wide Web.

Data provided by UNICEF highlights that the majority of this internet-less mass resides in underdeveloped countries and that children continue to be disadvantaged by the lack of internet connectivity in local schools.

A UNICEF-led initiative is tackling this dilemma in a novel way through a joint venture with the International Telecommunication Union, which led to the creation of Giga in 2019.

Gerben Kijne, blockchain product manager at Giga, presented the company’s Project Connect initiative at the Blockchain Expo in Amsterdam. Giga has made progress in connecting schools to the Internet in developing countries around the world.

Gerben Kijne talks about Giga’s Project Connect and his Patchwork Kingdoms NFT fundraising experience at the Blockchain Expo in Amsterdam.

The first step in this process was to map the schools and their connectivity through Project Connect. Giga uses machine learning to scan satellite images to identify schools on an open source map. To date, it has identified more than 1.1 million schools in 49 countries and connectivity data for a third of those schools.

After identifying a large number of schools in need of internet access, the next step in the process was to create a new fundraising initiative that tapped into the world of blockchain, cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens. (NFT).

Speaking to Cointelegraph after his keynote speech at the RAI Convention Center in Amsterdam, Kijne unpacked Giga’s Patchwork Kingdoms initiative. With the rise in popularity of NFTs over the past two years, Giga sought to make the most of the craze with its own NFT-led fundraising experiment in March 2022.

Giga has partnered with Dutch artist Nadieh Bremer to launch a collection of 1,000 procedurally generated NFTs minted on the Ethereum blockchain. The NFTs were produced using school data from Giga to represent those with and without an internet connection.

The NFT public sale raised around 240 Ether (ETH) in total, worth $700,000, which went directly to connecting schools to the internet. Kijne admitted that raising value was secondary to exploring another type of philanthropic fundraising.

“I think NFTs offer a really interesting use case as well. One of the things we’re starting to look at is what philanthropy looks like for the next generation of people. ‘UNICEF now and you donate, I don’t even know what you get, probably like a “thank you email” or something.

Kijne believes that NFTs can provide a closer link to donations, highlighting their use to track the impact of donations through ownership of a specific school’s NFT and monitor when funds raised are “cashed” to pay. internet connectivity.

Many lessons have been learned from the NFT-based fundraising initiative. As Kijne pointed out, building a community before the launch may have helped build support. As seen in the NFT space, community members play a role, but opportunistic NFT investors are still out there looking for a chance to cash in on new launches.

“I think quite a few people who kind of joined us, they formed one of two camps. We have the people we are targeting, the Giga supporters. Many have purchased their first NFT. Then the other group is people who think, “Oh, a UNICEF NFT!” Let me take care of that.

Despite this fact, the project was considered a success and provides an intriguing use case for blockchain-based NFTs as a transparent and community-based fundraising medium. The March 2022 public sale sold out in three hours and raised $550,000. The additional 20% of funds raised came from secondary sales on OpenSea.