This article was authored by Dylan Bushell-Embling, and was originally posted on telecomasia.net.
The UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development have moved to accelerate efforts to connect the roughly 50% of the world's population that still do not have access to the internet.
Participants at the commission's annual third quarter meeting, including representatives of UN agencies, governments and the broadband industries, agreed that connecting the “other half” of the world is a key priority.
“We are preparing to mark a new milestone where half of the world's people are accessing the Internet. While this growth is not spread evenly across the world's regions, it is nonetheless an encouraging development,” Broadband Commission co-chair and president of Rwanda Paul Kagame said.
“With more people online, we need to think through how everyone can access the digital content safely and fairly. To take full advantage of the latest technological innovations, we have to adapt rapidly, including more innovative approaches to policy and regulation. The best way to handle this is through close collaboration among the key stakeholders, from government, the private sector, and the research community."
At the meeting, some of commission's working groups presented reports covering the potential of broadband and digital technologies to improve digital health and prevent the spread of epidemics, as well as the opportunities for using digital entrepreneurship to meet the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
GSMA director general Mats Granryd also shared the annual progress made with the Broadband Commission Working Group on Bridging the Digital Gender Divide.