GENEVA, May 17 (Xinhua) — The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) issued a worldwide appeal on Wednesday calling for an increase in the value of pledges for digitalizing the world from the current 30 billion U.S. dollars to 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2026.
The target was announced on the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD), observed annually on May 17 to mark the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and ITU’s founding in 1865. “Tech is at the top of the global agenda, but the benefits of digital technology are still out of reach for too many people,” ITU Secretary General Doreen Bogdan-Martin said.
“If we are serious about digitalizing the world in a way that is meaningful and sustainable, we must take action to accelerate digital transformation for everyone.” ITU’s anniversary in 2023 is focused on empowering the least developed countries (LDCs) through information and communication technologies using the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition and its online pledging platform, which aim to raise the level of resources for universal and meaningful connectivity and digital transformation in the world’s LDCs.
The ITU appeal to the public and private sectors encompasses a campaign launched in February 2022 by Partner2Connect to mobilize direct funding or other contributions for connectivity projects in countries registering the lowest on development.The United Nations (UN) defines LDCs as countries that have low levels of income and face severe structural impediments to sustainable development.
The call for resources, which comes as the UN strives to rescue its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, stresses the need for the globe’s digital transformation to be environmentally friendly. “The digital revolution is a defining force of our era,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a message for this day. “As the internet becomes ever more central to value creation and innovation, least developed countries risk falling further behind. We must dramatically improve accessibility and inclusivity and eliminate the digital divide.”
According to ITU data, 2.7 billion people worldwide were offline in 2022. The digital connectivity divide separating the LDCs from the rest of the world is widening on key factors, such as access, digital skills and affordability. Though the globe’s 46 LDCs are home to almost one-third of the world’s offline population, the internet is considered to be affordable in only two of those countries. At an event marking the ITU’s anniversary in Geneva, Bogdan-Martin announced SDG Digital Day, scheduled for Sept. 17 in New York in advance of the UN SDG Summit to review the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.