Report: high-speed Internet improves economies in least developed countries
The UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development's Working Group on Broadband for the Most Vulnerable Countries has issued a report at the United Nations Headquarters, showing that broadband (high-speed Internet) plays a valuable role in helping Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to overcome vulnerabilities, grow economies and enhance people's livelihoods.
The report Broadband for national development in four LDCs: Cambodia, Rwanda, Senegal and Vanuatu highlights considerable progress across the four countries in expanding infrastructure and improving affordability of broadband, including:
- Rwanda is building a 4G/LTE wireless broadband network that will cover 95 per cent of its population by 2018.
- Senegal's effective use of public-private partnerships to achieve broadband access for all.
- Vanuatu's initiative to achieve 98 per cent broadband coverage by 2018.
- Cambodia's low mobile Internet prices – some of the least expensive in the world.
Narrowband services such as text messages in the health and agricultural sector and mobile money have also helped to improve livelihoods, says the report.
"It is possible to start to overcome the challenges of ensuring access to broadband. In the four case studies we see signs of progress, yet also areas for further work. I hope that the recommendations here will help to unlock the myriad potential benefits that broadband can bring to communities, so that we leave no one behind as we strive to connect the most vulnerable of countries," said Ms. Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu, Under-Secretary-General and High-Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) – and chair of the working group that published the report.
The report notes that use of broadband has not fully matched its increasing supply, due to challenges such as low digital literacy, unaffordability and lack of relevant local content and applications.
To tackle these and other challenges, the report recommends: expanding digital literacy and awareness, a strategic commitment to broadband as a cross-cutting general purpose technology, identifying complementary technologies to bridge the digital divide, straightforward solutions, acknowledging the urgent need to serve rural populations, developing enabling policy environments that also supports sustainability, increasing government and private sector coordination, supporting local e-business to make productive use of broadband, improving monitoring and evaluation of broadband initiatives, and striking a balance between coverage, affordability and digital literacy.
The report is a collaborative effort of several UN Broadband Commission Commissioners and Working Group Members. It was launched at a special session during the meeting of the national Focal Points of the Least Developed Countries, coinciding with the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2018 in New York.
The UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development was established in 2010 and comprises more than 50 leaders from across a range of government and industry sectors who are committed to actively advocate and supporting countries, UN experts and NGO teams to fully leverage power of broadband-based technologies for sustainable development in key areas such as education, healthcare and environmental management.
A copy of the Broadband Commission Working Group report, Broadband for national development in four LDCs: Cambodia, Rwanda, Senegal and Vanuatu may be downloaded here.