While access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is now widely recognized as essential to achieving human development goals, there is a long way to go in bridging the digital divide.
Through a multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder approach that harnesses the decision-making power of governments and the dynamism of the private sector, ITU's Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D), and its executive arm, the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), are working to promote equitable, sustainable and affordable ICT access to drive broader social and economic development.
Universal, ubiquitous and affordable access to ICTs is key to social and economic prosperity.
The Doha Declaration, 2006
ITU-D's highly diverse membership includes over 300 partners from governments, leading IT equipment manufacturers and software developers, regulatory agencies and regional and international development bodies. This gives the Sector the insight, connections and resources to make a difference, through policy-making initiatives, information sharing and grassroots projects that help build capacity through education and training.
The Sector's development goals, set via the second World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in 2005 and the World Telecommunication Development Conference in Doha in 2006, prioritize equitable access, not just across countries, but within communities, with special focus on gender issues, youth access, the disabled, indigenous communities and remote populations.
There's also a special direct aid programme targeting the 50 UN-designated Least Developed Countries, where more than 1 billion people still have virtually no access to any form of modern communications.
Through these activities and its unique position as the world's leading agency for ICT development, ITU is making a difference. For the millions of people for whom access to modern communications remains a dream, rather than a reality, ITU projects worldwide represent a concrete link to a brighter future.