G20 Foundation Publications Australia 2014 - Page 58

58 DEVELOPMENT DEVELOPMENT Connecting the next billion: ICTs and sustainable development Much more than just connectivity Digital inclusion is not just about connectivity; it’s about what we can do with that connectivity. The goal must therefore be not just to make sure that all people have access, but to ensure that they can really benefit from fast, affordable broadband services. Especially important are the potential improvements in education and healthcare. ICTs have already transformed how we look at education and learning – and they mark the biggest shift in the sector since the founding of the first ancient higher-learning institutions. Through the capacity of the internet, we have witnessed the death of distance, and the democratization of information and knowledge. As we continue into the 21st century, the benefits of online education have the power to transform not just countries, but entire continents. Information and communication technologies – ICTs – are now at the centre of just about everything we do, whether personally or professionally. High-speed networks serve as the core of today’s increasingly globalized business environment, while mobile communications have spread across the world faster than any technology in human history, so that now just about every person on the planet is within reach of a mobile phone Dr Hamadoun I Touré, Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union The internet remains the next big challenge in terms of digital inclusion. The latest ITU figures show that the total number of internet users will be close to 2.3 billion at the end of 2014 – and this is a truly remarkable achievement considering the Net is only 20 years old. But while most people in the developed world now have some kind of online access, two thirds of people in the developing world remain offline, cut-off from this indispensable resource; a resource that is arguably the most important tool we have ever seen in terms of improving global development, especially in the areas of education, healthcare and poverty reduction. ICTs provide increased access to educational resources and healthcare services, and help deliver inclusion into the global economy. As Ban Ki-moon has stated, “broadband connectivity is a transformative tool to achieve the three pillars of sustainable development: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental balance. It is a key element of the debate on the post- 2015 development agenda.” At ITU we are committed to bridging the digital divide, and we are convinced that bringing the next billion – indeed billions – online will bring multiplied benefits and will help to accelerate sustainable development across the globe. As world leaders meet to concretize the upcoming post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, we believe that ICTs will play a central part both in achieving these goals, and in measuring progress. Key to bringing the next billions online will undoubtedly be mobile broadband, which has seen quite extraordinary growth – indeed, it is remarkable to note that it took only nine years to reach the first billion mobile broadband subscriptions, and only two years to reach the next billion. To keep up this momentum, we must invest in further broadband network rollout and bring broadband to the top of the development agenda. Concerning health, the combination of education and technology will allow us to make tremendous advances in the provision of healthcare services worldwide. ICTs are already leading the way in terms of providing access to health advice, training for healthcare workers, patient monitoring, disease surveillance and management, as well as access to emergency services. ICTs will enable us to save millions of lives a year, with the combination of healthcare apps and mobile broadband having H[X[XXHš]HY[\ܚX[H]YHHXXوY][ۘ[X[\Hݚ\[ۋB^[\H\H[\\\]Y[UH[ۈHHPKH[ؚ[H\ XYZ\H[ؚ[HXH[\ݙHB][[ۈ[X]Y[وۋB[][XXH\X\\ KXX[܈[ݙ\[وX]™ؘ[H]\HYX\8$[Y[ MZ[[ۂ[HZ[]Y[HY\و [ HPKH[ؚ[H\\ۙBوX[H[]X]]\]\Y[H\وXH[\ݙH]\[[]\X[[Y]Z[[ۜ˂P܈\Z[XB][Y[[ۙ][\ݙ[Y[[YX][ۂ[X[\KP[H[[ܙX\[H[\ܝ[[\[œ\Z[XH][Y[ ^H[HH^H\ۙ[[[ۚ]ܚ[˜[YX\\[ܙ\XYHۈB\Z[\Z[XH][Y[[[]\\[X[]^B\H[ܚ]^Y[][H B MH][Y[Y[K\P™[XHYۚYX[XۛZX[X[[Y]H]\[[\H]XH\\X\XH\\Xš[\X\HX\[ܝ][ۂ[[\K]H[YH[YKB[YY۝[YH[\[[Z[[[[][Y[™[\H]H^[[ۜ\]HBX^[][H[Y]H\H[B[ٛܛX]]HXY\ˈ8N