Leaders push for more efforts to bridge global digital divide

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 7, 2022
Adjust font size:

Closing the global digital divide by ensuring connectivity of the billions of people worldwide that remain unconnected requires more concerted global efforts, leaders said Monday at the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC).

"Much global progress has been made with almost five billion people being online today, however, a third of our humanity is still offline that is close to three billion people, mostly in developing countries and in poor rural areas," said Zhao Houlin, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at the formal opening of the 8th edition of the WTDC in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

"We have the obligation today to connect the unconnected, drive the development of new technologies centered on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," he said.

Zhao echoed the UN secretary general's call for universal connectivity with affordable service by 2030, adding that the WTDC is committed to removing all remaining barriers to connectivity.

Speaking at the event, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said that in Rwanda, and all over the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, but challenges still remain.

"Access to high-speed internet has not kept up with the fast pace of digital transformation, and the digitization of the economy in general. If such inequalities are left unchecked, development will accelerate more and more in some parts of the world, while elsewhere it slows down," said Kagame.

"One-third of the world remains offline, and the majority are women in developing countries. The responsibility to shape the future of the digital economy, and ensure no one is left behind, lies with all of us, working together," he said.

According to him, there is a need to prioritize public-private partnerships, expand affordable digital access, and equip vulnerable citizens with digital literacy skills.

"Digital inclusion is going to be the bedrock of the global collaboration and a means to empower people to improve their lives. That is why a more people-centric approach has to be at the very heart of our work," said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the ITU.

Addressing the conference in a televised message, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said "the potential of digital technologies to help us make up lost ground in our efforts to achieve the 17 SDGs is tremendous. But so too are the challenges."

"The task is to map out a new action plan to bring the nearly three billion unconnected people into our global digital community because leaving no one behind means leaving no one offline," he said.

WTDC being the first of its kind on the African continent has brought together more than 1,000 people to discuss new ways to develop innovative approaches, new collaborative models for connectivity, and digital solutions to achieve the SDGs.

The global technology event that runs from June 6 to 16, strives to draw up a bold new roadmap for harnessing digital technologies to drive socio-economic development and re-energize progress towards the SDGs set by the UN for 2030.

Under the auspices of ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, WTDC brings together members of the international community, including heads of state, government ministers, national delegations from 153 countries, prominent leaders from the digital sector, high-level representatives of regional bodies including the African Union and European Union, and top officials from non-governmental bodies.

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter