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Accelerating Universal Digital Connectivity

Dec 3, 2021

Countries in Asia and the Pacific Region have made tremendous technological progress over the last decade, although simultaneously increased digital inequalities across the region. The COVID-19 pandemic only made this prominent, highlighting the need for global connectivity, especially in access to education, work, and healthcare. Universal connectivity is a fundamental element of an inclusive and sustainable world; thus, as with income inequality and other human development indicators, digital inequality trends must be reversed. Universal, affordable broadband availability can largely improve a population’s quality of education, healthcare, standards of living, and more. Digital inequalities disproportionately impact low-income populations, people living in rural areas and small island developing nations, those who lack literacy and digital skills, and people from traditionally disenfranchised groups, such as women and girls, persons with disabilities, and ethnic minorities. The lack of regulations, funding, infrastructure and digital skills contribute to the unavailability of universal, affordable broadband access across the Asia and the Pacific.

This paper discusses how addressing digital inequality should be at the forefront of the public and private sectors’ agenda. Efforts should include expanding accessibility, creating relevant content, enabling digital literacy, and ensuring affordable connectivity and digital solutions, therefore better preparing individual countries and the global community, as a whole, for a more connected, inclusive and sustainable future.

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