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ICT Infrastructure

Achieving Socioeconomic Development by investing in ICT Infrastructure

In November 2016, ESCAP and ITU jointly launched the High-Level Economic and Industry Expert Roundtable meeting at the ITU Telecom World, in Bangkok, aiming to exchange experts' views and analysis on the latest trends and issues related to the development of telecommunications/ICT infrastructure, focusing on economic and financial aspects.

At its first meeting, the invited experts discussed how best to invest in ICT infrastructure to achieve business objectives, benefits, and socioeconomic development, and to accelerate the connection of the remaining unconnected. The discussion focused on the target of enabling 1.5 billion people to come online by 2020. The Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative, endorsed by 62 member States in Asia and the Pacific, was recognized as an important initiative in connecting the unconnected by promoting cross-border fibre-optic network connectivity aimed at increasing last-mile bandwidth (quality), redundancy (reliability) and adoption (through lower costs and prices) of broadband connectivity in rural and unconnected areas.

Recognizing the increasing importance of internet access and adoption as an enabler to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and for all economies and societies to participate and benefit from the 4th Industrial Revolution, in January 2017 a special Joint Program co-hosted by the World Economic Forum and the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has brought together leaders from government, business, civil society, and academia. This roundtable meeting, which was hosted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland focused on assessing existing efforts and progress towards connecting the 3.9 billion people not on the Internet and discussing innovative approaches and solutions and how these can be scaled and replicated.

The importance of connecting the unconnected has been analyzed in a recent report titled State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016, which explains that the digital divide is continuing to grow, given the lack of investment in fixed broadband networks in many developing countries. While there is some advancement, it has become evident that more needs to be done to accelerate access for all to ensure that no one is left behind.

For more information, please review the report of the High-Level Economic and Industry Expert Roundtable meeting.