by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is appealing for US$100 billion (R1.905 trillion) to digitalise the world by 2026.
The worldwide appeal is up from the current $30 billion.
This appeal includes a focus on raising the level of resources for universal and meaningful connectivity and digital transformation in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs).
The announcement of the target was made on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, 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,” said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin.
“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,” she added.
In 2023, ITU’s anniversary is focused on empowering the least developed countries (LDCs) through information and communication technologies using the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition and its online pledging platform.
The United Nations (UN) defines LDCs as countries that have low levels of income and face severe structural impediments to sustainable development.
“The digital revolution is a defining force of our era,” said UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
“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.
Although the globe’s 46 least developed countries 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.
– CAJ News