ITU launches program to bridge digital divide in poor countries by 2030
The International Telecommunications Union, a UN-backed internet and telecommunications agency, has launched a new agenda to bridge the digital divide in poor countries by 2030.
The new initiative, called Partner2Connect Digital Coalition, aims to foster “meaningful connectivity and digital transformation in the countries most difficult to connect to the world,” said ITU.
Target economies include the world’s least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries and small island developing States that are designated for priority assistance in the pursuit of the UN-supported Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 , he added.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected LDCs in “unprecedented, profound and disproportionate ways,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.
“Through partnerships with United Nations agencies, ITU aims to support LDCs in facing this challenge, harness the power of digital technologies and transform today’s digital transformation into a development transformation for all. “Mr. Zhao said.
The coronavirus pandemic forced countries last year to impose widespread restrictions on travel and prompted offices and schools to switch to remote work. However, the outbreak has also highlighted the deep digital divide between countries, as those with poor connectivity lag behind.
Internet penetration is 87 percent in developed countries, but only 47 percent in developing countries – and 19 percent in LDCs, according to an ITU report.
As the pandemic increasingly continues to drive economic, educational and social activities online, the world’s 46 LDCs are struggling to extend connectivity to all of their citizens, ITU has found.
While Internet coverage and accessibility are gradually improving in some LDCs, only 25% of users in all of these countries have started using the Internet. Almost 50 percent of people who need to access the Internet do not use it, according to the latest ITU data on Internet connectivity.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, ITU has “redoubled its efforts to help countries rapidly expand connectivity” to connect the 3.7 billion people who are still offline, as well as the “millions of communities around the world where connectivity is still too poor to provide significant benefits, âsaid Doreen Bogdan-Martin, director of ITU’s telecommunications development office.
âThe new coalition recognizes that progress can only be made through a multi-stakeholder approach.
âBased on the principles of inclusion, partnership and [Sustainable Development Goals]”Focused on digital development, the Partner2Connect Coalition can pave the way for the Global Digital Compact and the United Nations Future Summit in 2023,” she added.
The pact and the summit are among the main events of the United Nations common agenda, presented this month by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“Half of humanity does not have access to the Internet. We need to connect everyone by 2030,” Guterres said at one of the sessions of the 76th United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
The coalition’s latest actions will focus on four key areas: connecting people everywhere, empowering communities, creating digital ecosystems and driving investment. It intends to create a platform for global leaders to mobilize commitments, resources and partnerships to implement solutions to drive digital transformation.
Update: September 22, 2021 3:00 a.m.