Strengthening digital skills to scale digital transformation
Representatives from 13 new centres fostering digital skills in developing countries visited the headquarters of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in March to kick-off phase two of the Digital Transformation Centres (DTC) Initiative, a joint initiative with technology conglomerate Cisco. ITU – a United Nations specialized agency that works closely with governments and the private sector – promotes inclusive global “digital transformation” as a key element to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Digital natives, you have the floor…
In September 2013, young leaders from around the world gathered at the BYND 2015 Global Youth Summit in Costa Rica to voice their views on the digital future they wanted. I was impressed at how quickly and readily young people assumed responsibility in their roles as innovators, creators, and solution-shapers for the digital future.
What holds girls back from pursuing a STEM career?
Girls and young women around the world face structural challenges in gaining equal access to the Internet. Among the many inequalities in the digital world, online harassment and violence are significant barriers for girls and women’s full participation there. These barriers only grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, as digital platforms became more widely relied upon.
How Africa is leading the way in dealing with e-waste
With the information and communication technology (ICT) boom has come a huge increase in discarded electrical and electronic equipment, or ‘e-waste’. A record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of e-waste was generated around the world in 2019, and this number is on the rise.
Skillsets required for digital transformation
The digital skills shortage requires educational and capacity-building organizations, along with all other stakeholders, to urgently reform their training programmes. Only then can they equip the workforce with the necessary skills for countries’ economic development in the digital era.
Partnering to connect the world
On the eve of Part 1 of the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UN LDC5), I took enormous pleasure in joining public and private partners for the launch of the next key building blocks in our ground-breaking Partner2Connect Digital Coalition. Partner2Connect is a global, leadership-level multi-stakeholder effort, constructed in close cooperation with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, and in line with the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.
Industry and regulators collaborate to foster meaningful connectivity
By Bocar Ba, Chief Executive Officer, Samena Telecommunications Council Digital transformation can only become a reality through concerted action that mobilizes broad support, including from the private sector. This was the key takeaway from a consultative meeting of industry leaders in the tech sector last month at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Global broadband less affordable in 2021: New ITU-A4AI study
Internet connectivity became less affordable around the world in 2021, according to the latest statistical analysis by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI). The share of people’s incomes spent on fixed broadband and mobile Internet services increased globally last year, in parallel with upticks in demand and usage compared to 2020, reveals an ITU-A4AI policy brief, The affordability of ICT services 2021.
Partner2Connect rallies commitments for connectivity
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) today announced its Partner2Connect pledging platform and an action framework to advance universal connectivity and digital transformation. ITU’s Partner2Connect (P2C) Online Pledging Platform will help mobilize resources to transform societies, promote sustainable digital technology uptake, and ensure meaningful connectivity for everyone.
International Women's Day 2022
Megan Anduru knows first-hand how important it is for girls to be able to connect to the Internet, so they can learn the skills they need to succeed in a connected world. A young Kenyan teenager herself, she is deeply engaged in online safety and access. She is an information and communication technology (ICT) prefect at her school, a position that allows her to encourage other students to become part of the digital revolution.
Tech transfer and digital public goods needed for climate action
As African countries brace for a warmer, drier future, researchers around the word are exploring ways the latest digital technologies could help with climate mitigation and adaptation. Student researchers based in Geneva, Switzerland, for instance, have looked at how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can boost climate action in Africa’s energy and agriculture sectors.
Overcoming obstacles to digital skills development
Last-mile connectivity (LMC) coverage and usage gaps are significant obstacles to effective digital skills development, especially among underrepresented populations. This has only become clearer in the COVID-19 context, as connectivity became essential for the provision of vital economic and social community services.
Restoring connectivity in Tonga through collaborative disaster response
A few weeks ago, the world shared unprecedented satellite images and video of an underwater volcanic eruption the day before near the island nation of Tonga. Reported as “likely the biggest [eruption] recorded anywhere on the planet in more than 30 years”, the 14 January event resulted in shockwaves recorded thousands of kilometres away, from New Zealand to Japan, and as far as Peru and the west coast of the United States.
Enabling youth engagement and empowerment
The world today is home to around 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24, with close to 90 per cent of them living in developing countries. This is the largest generation of youth in history. Youth voices, therefore, ought to be reflected and amplified in the world’s digital development dialogue. The time is now.
Now more than ever, we must amplify youth voices in digital development
Access to affordable, reliable, Internet connectivity and digital literacy is no longer a “nice to have” for nation states. The COVID‑19 pandemic has illustrated the crucial role of high‑quality broadband access in advancing the physical, social, financial and emotional wellbeing of people all around the world.
Meet the winners: Connect2Recover research competition
As the world contemplates education, jobs, and healthcare needs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments and companies have largely concurred on the need to “build back better”. Yet they struggle with specific ways to ensure no one is left behind.
E-Karkara: Improving farming in Nigerien rural communities
Agriculture makes up the largest part of the economy in the Republic of Niger. Rural communities, however, struggle with limited access to information and costly mobile services. Smallholder farmers often miss out on critical information, such as weather updates and market prices, with negative effects on productivity and profits.
Generation Connect joins forces with Kofi Annan Changemakers
Around the world, in every region, more young people are online than adults. And yet they are often left out of the conversation when it comes to creating the digital strategies and policies that impact them. Creating the digital leaders of tomorrow requires empowering the digital youth of today. The Kofi Annan Changemakers (KAC) and Generation Connect, the youth initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) are joining forces to facilitate this.
Spectrum, investment and balance: Three key enablers for connectivity
Connecting Humanity, a study by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), indicates the need for investments worth an estimated USD 428 billion worldwide to ensure that people all over the world enjoy unhindered digital access. Universal access depends on connecting the remaining three billion people aged ten and older — still nearly half of the world’s population — to broadband Internet by 2030.
Smart Islands: Boosting connectivity to unlock Pacific potential
For many of us, the Internet has evolved into an indispensable need, with connectivity becoming ever-more crucial to provide a wide range of digital services. This took on a new meaning with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the emergence of COVID-19 more than a year and a half ago, international bandwidth usage has continued to grow. Yet still, almost half of the world’s population remains unconnected. The connectivity challenge remains especially severe for remote or isolated communities, far from the network infrastructure that has spread across all major continents.
School connectivity equips learners for education, work, and life
Of the 3.7 billion people around the world who still lack access to the Internet, nearly 370 million are under 25 years of age. Millions of children still leave school each year without any digital skills, limiting their access to employment opportunities and to a wealth of information online. The chasm separating digital "haves" and "have-nots" prevents those children from reaching their full potential. But solutions are in sight thanks to new technologies, innovative business and finance solutions, and growing international cooperation to expand school connectivity.
Broadband mapping: Key to universal connectivity
The swift adoption of digital tools during the COVID 19 pandemic has shown the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve daily lives – and how the inadequacy or outright lack of digital infrastructure can deprive entire communities of essential services. Broadband mapping – whereby regulators assess service availability and quality locally, nationally, and regionally - is essential for informed decision-making.
France's Repairability Index inches toward circular economy
France's new requirements for longer-lasting electronics aim to encourage maintenance and consequently reduce electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) from discarded devices and appliances. The country's new Repairability Index also represents a key first step towards a circular economy for digital tech and household goods. As of the start of this year, France became the first European country to implement a legally binding repairability index, with a new set of criteria for manufacturers spanning five types of electronics and home appliances.
Digital solutions for a circular electronics value chain
Rapid digital uptake all over the world – in our workplaces, institutions, and daily lives – comes as a double-edged sword for humanity’s future. While countries worldwide invest in new tech and infrastructure to keep up with innovative applications and fast-growing demand for digitalization, the subsequent piles of discarded electronic equipment – or e-waste – keep growing, too. Annual e-waste generation could reach 74.7 million tonnes by 2030. Moving towards a circular economy is critical for environmental, health and societal reasons. But it also makes sense in economic terms.
Connect2Recover: New ways to build back better with broadband
Many of the world's unconnected live in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The heavy reliance on broadband connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the negative impacts on communities suffering from digital exclusion, with the inability to access online services severely affecting education, healthcare, business and jobs, and access to vital government services. ITU data shows stark digital divides between LDCs and developed countries, as well as within LDCs themselves.
Montenegro aligns digital development with international goals
ITU News spoke to Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic about how digital technologies are advancing development and boosting economic growth. How do information and communication technologies (ICTs) fit into Montenegro’s social and economic development plans? ICTs have become an increasingly important tool for economic development, broadening people’s possibilities of using modern technologies, fostering the digital economy, and enhancing international cooperation. Rapid, secure digital infrastructure and e-services have helped overcome problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
School connectivity needed in underserved communities
Aiming to pick up the pace on digital sustainability, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) have joined forces to co-design a far-reaching digital inclusion project. Together, the two institutions aim to help bridge the persistent global digital divide.
Are African countries doing enough to ensure cybersecurity and Internet safety?
As the world continues to recover from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, coping mechanisms such as increased use of virtual workspaces, online marketplaces and e-governance have become the norm. While this presents opportunities to revamp economies and streamline public service delivery, it may also heighten exposure to cybercrime.
Road to Addis: Empowered youth for inclusive digital futures
Today’s decision makers increasingly recognize an important role for young people in helping solve the most formidable challenges now facing humanity. This is especially true in the mobilization of digital technologies to ensure a prosperous, equitable, sustainable future. "Young people will inherit a world that’s been dramatically reshaped by today’s technological advances," says Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
My Women in Cyber mentorship experience
Historically, women have been underrepresented in technology-related disciplines, particularly cybersecurity. This begins early on, with fewer females being interested in technology at the grade-school level, which results in fewer women choosing cybersecurity as a profession in industry or academia (read more about the science, technology, engineering, and math gap in this report).
How ITU provides emergency telecommunications in a pandemic
One grey day in April, a group of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) staff met to test dozens of satellite phones and other terminals at the ITU headquarters in Geneva. “We have to prepare everything in advance so that when a disaster strikes, the only thing that we have to do is pack the equipment and take it to where it is needed,” explained Jake Spinnler from ITU’s Emergency Telecommunications Division.
Digital development through entrepreneurship-driven innovation
The world’s poorest nations often lack access to opportunities, or even formal education, but they are brimming with ingenuity, talent, and entrepreneurial drive. Challenging circumstances tend to nurture innovators who instinctively learn sophisticated problem-solving skills to manage day-to-day life. To Diene Keita, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), "innovation is a major game changer to accelerate progress of the 2030 Agenda."
Telcos strengthen India's disaster preparedness
When Cyclone Tauktae struck India’s western coastal areas several months ago, it brought mass destruction of property and disrupted daily life in five Indian states. Despite the storm’s ‘extremely severe’ designation, the damage and loss of lives were less than expected. This was thanks in large part to national disaster preparation plans, underpinned by information and communication technologies (ICTs) and timely preparation by telecom operators.
GSR-21: Tackling global challenges at the regional level
Although we often talk about issues of a global nature, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the global digital divide, each region faces distinct challenges in tackling these. Information and communication technology (ICT) regulation is no different. Ahead of the latest Global Symposium for Regulators, GSR-21, regional experts met to discuss specific regulatory and economic challenges and identify key regulatory priorities at the regional level.
Leading to achieve universal connectivity
Born into poverty in Senegal in the 1970s, Lady Mariéme Jamme had the odds stacked against her. Marginalized and neglected, she lacked education and was trafficked as a young girl, she said. Yet she did not allow difficult circumstances to stop her from finding purpose in life, eventually becoming a leader and role model for women in the world of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Montenegro embraces IPv6: Updating protocols to meet new web demand
Like many countries, Montenegro has gone through a succession of lockdowns over the past year and a half, with economic and social activity moving largely into the online sphere. COVID-19 pandemic response measures have accelerated the digital transformation in the country of about 630,000 people. But this has also stretched Internet infrastructure.
Mobile World Congress 2021: Back together in Barcelona
As I prepared to attend the GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) late last month, I realised I’d practically forgotten how to pack. This major industry event, taking place in Barcelona, Spain, would be my first official trip in nearly a year and a half. I was a regular traveller and a master of packing a small carry-on for a week. But I had clearly lost my knack. What did I need to bring?
Does anyone still use business cards? I hadn’t for at least 15 months. Plug adapters – check; band-aids – check; walking shoes – check. Not to mention hand sanitizer, protective masks, and a PCR test.
Protecting children online: Internet safety with Sango
With one in three children connected to the Internet, many of those growing up today are active participants in the online world. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitalization of children’s lives, affecting everything from how they learn to how they play and socialize. According to UNICEF, more than 1.5 billion children and young people have been affected by school closures worldwide. A Around the world, many children have connected to the Internet for the first time, unsupervised.
ITU Innovation Challenges: Do you have what it takes to create a pandemic-proof digital world?
Well before COVID-19 the pandemic, many countries had already embarked on their Fourth Industrial Revolution, wherein the digital or “virtual” and physical, “real” worlds progressively converge. But navigating the so-called “4IR” is not easy – especially for developing countries, where the benefits of new tech can be very unevenly distributed. By early 2019, as policy-makers and regulators across the developing world struggled with the growing digital divide, the onset of the pandemic suddenly made it worse.
Iceland prepares for next-generation cybersecurity
A booming data-centre industry and plans to improve connectivity are amplifying Iceland’s role in the global digital ecosystem. But as the country prepares to implement technologies from 5G to big data to meet its digital transformation goals, challenges persist – with cybersecurity chief among them. Experts estimate that Iceland loses nearly USD 72 million (ISK 10 billion) to cybercrime each year – equivalent to roughly 0.3 per cent of the north Atlantic island nation’s gross domestic product.
Working together to regulate for inclusive connectivity
For me, there is one word that has defined the past year: together. During the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were stronger together. Now, we are working to build back better together as we slowly start to recover. As a former regulator, I know that the best way to close the widening digital gap and achieve meaningful and inclusive connectivity for all is by working together.
Helping Namibia reduce e-waste in local ecosystems
Around the globe, every living human being is producing 7.3 kilograms of e-waste, otherwise known as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), every year. In 2019 alone, the world generated an estimated 53.6 million tonnes of global e-waste, according to the latest Global E-waste Monitor.While those in developed countries produce more than their share, the problem is growing fast across the developing world, too. And in the end, e-waste from anywhere and everywhere threatens all our ecosystems.
New ITU tools to foster digital development
Data is critical to our goal of connecting the world. It tells us where we were, where we are, what works and what doesn’t. It is a key ingredient of empirical research for establishing correlation, determining causality, identifying good practices, and formulating policy recommendations. Since the advent of the Internet, data volumes have grown exponentially. And yet, reliable and meaningful data remain surprisingly scant, because producing such data is often complex, costly, and time-consuming.
Amplifying female voices: A look back at Girls in ICT Day 2021
Every year, on the fourth Thursday in April, International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated around the world. The associated activities encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and especially information and communication technologies (ICTs).It's one of my favourite days of the year. And though we celebrated it virtually this time, the 10th anniversary of Girls in ICT Day was more exciting and inspiring than ever.
Finance2Connect: Finding ways to fund connectivity
What will it cost to connect the world and bridge the current digital divide? How and where can we find the money to fund the global digital transformation? Financing connectivity is recognized as a key priority in the United Nations Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. During a recent high-level debate on digital cooperation and connectivity, the President of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly urged the global community to work creatively with public and private stakeholders to forge a new paradigm to drive digital development.
Boosting digital skills in healthcare
COVID-19 has spurred online searches for consultations and diagnoses among medical practitioners and patients alike. But with only about 51 per cent of the global population using the Internet, the risk of a digital gap further entrenching health inequity looms large. At the same time, as technological change advances, the global health workforce must be equipped with new skills, ideally supported by policy makers who can understand and implement digital health strategies and infrastructure.
When ICTs meet agriculture: Connected melon farmers bear fruit
The sun is rising on a Japanese rooftop fragrant with muskmelons. Amid the greenery, a network of monitors and sensors pulsates reassuringly. The idyllic, glass-enclosed roofscape provides a real-life platform for digital agriculture – one of many applications with the potential to feed smart cities of the future. But before this verdant vision can become reality, certain enabling conditions must be in place.
Strengthening ties for affordable connectivity worldwide
More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us take for granted the ability to maintain a semblance of normality through online exchanges and virtual communities. Digital technologies – rooted fundamentally in connectivity through the Internet – sustain life, health, education, and economies.
Effective regulation is the key to a bright digital future
What are the results of a full year of working and learning from home? For some of my friends, it’s been improved cooking skills thanks to online tutorials, gaining new proficiency with digital technologies or simply spending more time with immediate family. For me, it’s been a little bit of the above together with a desktop full of online webinar backgrounds from the many great programmes and initiatives hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and partners throughout the year.
Celebrating 10 years of International Girls in ICT Day
International Girls in ICT Day took place for the first time ten years ago. This worldwide commemoration, now held annually on the fourth Thursday of every April, celebrates girls committed to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It offers them information and encouragement to choose
Generation Connect: Amplifying young voices to advance digital inclusion
Young people around the world are powerful drivers of innovation, highly motivated to improve their own lives and the lives of their families and communities. The Generation Connect initiative gives them a voice, with the opportunity to be empowered, to be engaged, and to help advance the global digital development agenda for present and future generations.
Empowering women and girls through sport and technology
Sport and information and communication technologies (ICTs) have something surprising in common: both are drivers of gender equality and women’s empowerment. By teaching teamwork, self-reliance, and resilience, sport and ICTs can provide women and girls with the social connections they need to build self-confidence and create strong communities.
Read More »
The Bahamas strengthens its cybersecurity capacity
The Bahamas has launched a project with ITU to set up a national Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) to help protect the small island country’s critical digital infrastructure and data. The National Cybersecurity Project, started in January and officially launched in February at national level, aims to help assess current Bahamian capabilities in this rapidly evolving field, as well as develop its National Cybersecurity Strategy.
Read More »
Connect2Include: Making digital accessibility a reality for all
Despite having no limbs, Joanne O’Riordan can type 42 words per minute. But while attending elementary school in rural Ireland, the 24-year-old sports journalist used to struggle to complete her homework. It was not for lack of arms and legs, she said, but rather because of her limited access to broadband Internet.
Read More »
Building and nurturing women’s digital leadership
Thinking back over my long career at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), I remember arriving at my first-ever ITU Women’s Breakfast at the 1993 Regional Telecommunication Development Conference for Asia and the Pacific in Singapore.
ITU marks International Women's Day
Today is International Women’s Day, and the theme this year is Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. Never before has the need for women to take on a leadership role in creating a more just and equal digital future been more important.
Read More »
ITU wins engagement award for online meetings and participation
Last year saw a massive shift of the economy and our lives to the digital sphere – at least for those who were able to be online. This abrupt shift was no different for the United Nations and ITU, as the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs) was quick to use its in-house expertise to adapt our tools and processes to this new digital reality.
Read More »
Digital regulation: 7 ways to move the cursor
Digital markets are evolving at an increasingly rapid clip and have the potential to dynamize all economic sectors through digital transformation. A new generation of policies and regulation is geared towards fast-tracking digital development and expanding meaningful connectivity.
Read More »
Sango and me: Internet safety through drawing
I met Sango in the summer of 2020. In the midst of the pandemic, I was able to learn about the new ITU Child Online Protection (COP) Guidelines. Alongside other international experts on child online protection, governments, private sector representatives and children, I was introduced to the mascot of ITU’s Child Online Protection Initiative, who – as I learned – was entirely created by children and launched on Safer Internet Day 2020.
Read More »
'Least developed' no longer: How digital transformation drove Vanuatu’s LDC graduation
Least developed countries (LDCs) are characterized as low-income countries with severe structural impediments, vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks. Graduating from LDC status requires a mix of careful deliberation, concerted efforts, and strategic leadership – no small feat for any country, never mind a Pacific island nation prone to frequent cyclones and other extreme weather.
Read More »
Unsolicited commercial communications: New challenges, new strategies
In the age of COVID-19, communication is more essential than ever. Your mobile device is indispensable when it comes to connecting with loved ones – and to a world faced with a global pandemic. Mobile devices are also one of the most important means of communication in terms of trade and commerce since buyer and service provider or seller come into direct contact through voice and text-based services.
Read More »
Digital transformation in Europe: 3 key regulatory priorities for 2021
"Europe's mix of enabling regulatory environments, robust connectivity infrastructure and the lively ecosystem of digital technology providers is fuelling the Region's transformation and has proven critical in the resilience during the COVID 19 pandemic," remarked Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau at ITU, as she welcomed participants of the ITU Regional Regulatory Forum for Europe on Regulation supporting digital transformation.
Read More »
Child Online Protection in practice
ITU News recently connected with H.E. Károly Solymár, Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of Innovation and Technology of Hungary, to learn more about how Hungary is implementing child online protection (COP) at the national level – and the role of ITU in supporting this work.
Read More »
Developing spectrum management capacity across the Asia-Pacific Region
Last year, we witnessed dramatic changes in the way we live and work due to COVID-19. Our global dependence on digital technology seemed to skyrocket almost overnight, as many of us were forced to switch from offline to online modes of work and life. At the same time, the value of resilient and reliable digital infrastructure and networks has never been clearer or timelier, especially given the rapid rollout of 5G networks and services across the globe.
Read More »
Why Girls in ICT Day matters in Thailand – and beyond
This year, girls and young women are celebrating Girls in ICT Day virtually in Thailand. Together with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) of Thailand, ITU launched the event on 17 August 2020. Key supporters of the event include UNESCAP, FAO, UNESCO, Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), Cisco Systems, and DTAC.
Read More »
Digital technology-led recovery in Asia and the Pacific
I joined the ITU Regional Office at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In responding to the pandemic and planning recovery, digital technology and connectivity have gained increasing recognition as an effective tool to tackle challenges in the health sector and ensure the continuation of essential social and economic functions across the globe. My journey at ITU started in the midst of a flurry of global and regional actions.
Read More »
How Kacific works to boost connectivity in Pacific Island States
ITU and Kacific Broadband Satellites Group (Kacific) have partnered to boost the capacity of Pacific Island States, in particular to remote and outer islands, using satellite communications. This increased connectivity will help foster socio-economic development in the region – for example, by providing access to online education tools for children in Samoa – and is vital to ensuring a reliable communications network when disasters strike.
Read More »