The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for digital connectivity and transformation to mitigate the impact of economic slowdown, sustain well-being, and speed up e-resilience readiness, and build back better. Social distancing has generated higher demand for fast and reliable broadband connectivity to support the growing information flows.
The world in 2020 is in a state of flux. While much progress has been made globally over the past ten years in expanding access to, and adoption of, broadband infrastructure and services, significant challenges remain in tackling digital inequalities, addressing the current widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in accelerating efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Asia and the Pacific has been going through a fundamental transformation induced by digital technology and connectivity. The region has been a driving force of such digital transformation - be it artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, cloud computing or blockchain.
Despite rapid technological advancements reported in some of the member countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), rural schools in developing countries are left largely unconnected and under-resourced. The slow progress poses two challenges.
Access to the Internet contributes to socio-economic development. However, access to affordable and reliable broadband connectivity is not universal, particularly in countries with special needs (Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Land-locked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS)).