“Road to Addis Ababa – 2021”
H.E. Mr. Houlin Zhao
Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin
Shaikh Talal Al Mamari
Mr. Hou Tao
Global Vice President
Mr. Zarrar Hasham Khan
Globally, information and communications industries have proved themselves to be vital resources for reducing the social and economic impacts during the pandemic. Nonetheless, COVID-19 has caused the greatest worldwide social and economic disruption since the Second World War.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) sit at the heart of the international development agenda and are an urgent call for action by all countries and by all stakeholders. The world approached an unfortunate anniversary – 1 year has passed since the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of connectivity and why now more than ever connecting every person will help accelerate the global socio-economic recovery that must follow after the pandemic and ultimately help achieve the SDGs.
Governments and ICT stakeholders are all coming to understand that COVID-19 will not prove a short-lived crisis – even with successful vaccines and their global distribution - it is increasingly clear that COVID-19 has been a uniquely powerful game-changer, with digital connectivity now at the top of every nation’s agenda. It has been both a catalyst to change legacy processes and effect cultural change as well as an accelerant to online trends that may have taken a decade without its arrival. There is also a clear recognition of a greater need for collaboration at regional and global level.
Generally, connectivity providers – including but not limited to fixed operators, mobile network operators (MNOs), satellite providers, municipal networks, and Internet service providers have done an excellent job in the pandemic. Networks have held together; outages have been few and small in number; broadband speeds may have decreased for a time given certain market features and pre-emptive measures adopted by operators to ensure continuity of service on their networks. Overall, however, connectivity providers have offered resilient services during a challenging 2020.
We now need to face the “recovery phase” to address the digital inclusion agenda of governments worldwide, looking at how partnerships with the private sector and other stakeholders can help drive this important agenda. There is now an urgent need to create strong collaborative partnerships for the future.
Addressing the SDGs requires significant investment and financing. ITU estimates that US$ 428 billion are required to connect the remaining 3 billion people to the Internet by 2030. New effective and impactful ways for funds allocation and administration are needed. Achieving the SDGs cannot be done in isolation. It requires a global partnership of multiple stakeholders. How can partnerships be made more effective for advancing connectivity and achieving the SDGs?
The 2021 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-21) is a unique opportunity to develop innovative approaches and new models of collaboration for connectivity and digital solutions in this final Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs. WTDC-21 will be a landmark digital development conference and a unique opportunity for the global community, and the private sector in particular, to develop innovative approaches and forge new models of collaboration to overcome digital development challenges and accelerate connectivity and digital solutions in the final Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs.
This session will look at critical questions ICT policy makers, regulators and the private sector need to address in order to fast forward digital connectivity for sustainable development.