Digital development: technology-enabled, but human-centric

FAO Mobile Agriculture

Webinar on remote control of water pumps with mobile phones (FAO, 2017)

Endorsed content in association with the International Telecommunication Union

Connectivity is a basic human right. A necessity, not a luxury.  Information and communication technologies are the backbone infrastructure critical to driving social and economic development throughout the world, across developed and emerging markets alike. Basic connectivity is the first step on the journey to the intelligent networks of the near future, enabled by artificial intelligence and 5G, upgrading industry, health, transportation, education – all arenas of human endeavour. Development increasingly means digital development.

Connecting the half of the world’s population that remains unconnected, largely in Asia, South America and Africa, is an ongoing global challenge. It requires huge investment in infrastructure, innovative business models and a mix of technologies, facilitated by, integrated multi-stakeholder partnerships between governments, the private sector, international organizations, academia and civil society. Alongside the physical infrastructure, be it wireless or fixed, satellite or fibre, bringing the internet to rural, remote and underserved means providing affordable devices and access to the services, products and applications they make possible.

Demand is the other side of the connectivity conundrum.  There is little point in building it if they don’t come, whether because they don’t know it exists, aren’t equipped to use it or see no value in what it offers. Public awareness, digital skills and literacy programmes are therefore vital. Above all, it is compelling content that will drive adoption – creating content in local languages relevant to each micro-environment is critical. This is an area where governments can take the lead in terms of providing services and applications, such as market information for farmers, local weather, government services, e-health and e-education programmes.

For it is not connectivity itself which creates value, but rather what connectivity enables: economic growth and new business cases across all sectors, social and human development, improving and enriching lives across all matrices. Development is technology-enabled, but human-centric. There can be no smart society without digitally smart people.

How do we make people digitally smart? Through education. Perhaps the single most urgent initiative in making connectivity meaningful is digital literacy – from the ground up, and throughout all layers of society. We need a holistic approach to digital skills at a national level, from the playground to life-long learning in community centres, from the very basics for first-time users in the villages to coding, programming and highly-specialized engineers, data scientists or AI experts. Digital literacy may be delivered and funded through professional, international or local institutions, through private or state schools, formal or informal channels, on the job or online.  And it needs to spread beyond citizens, for teachers to be trained, for civil servants to be comfortable in the digital world, for entrepreneurs to develop the supporting skills in legal, financial, marketing, managerial and business skills.

There is a shortage of advanced skills worldwide, in particular in specific areas or industries where the digital era calls for both technical and domain knowledge. Developing nations perpetually playing catch-up must move fast to avoid the digital divide deepening and widening. Huge potential exists for creating radically new educational structures, revisiting curricula in conjunction with academia, government and industry to produce a workforce with skills relevant now and in the future. The advantage of a relatively blank slate, in comparison to many developed companies, may indeed make leapfrogging possible. And providing connectivity and skills to rural and remote areas will open up new markets, ecosystems and human capacity for innovation.

Looking to the fast-approaching future of intelligent networks, all nations must work hard to prepare their citizens for dramatic transformations in society, particularly in the labour market. Much as a good footballer passes the ball to the space his teammate will occupy shortly – rather where he currently is – so governments must provide education and awareness for the new skills that will be needed, the new opportunities opening up. This, too, is smart digital development: creating new mindsets and cultures.

At the heart of development are people. There is no value in connectivity, even if affordable and accessible, or in content, even if in local languages and highly relevant, if people, the end users, do not have the necessary skills to take full advantage of the benefits provided. Exploring just how we do this – and the mix of perspectives, case studies, strategies and policies on digital development for our smart future – will be at the heart of what promises to be a fascinating debate at ITU Telecom World 2018 in Durban this September.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

On Youth Participation: Are we active citizens?

Corporate tax remains a key revenue source, despite falling rates worldwide

JADE President opens JADE Spring Meeting 2014

Venezuela: ‘A worrying destabilizing factor in the region’, Bachelet tells Human Rights Council

Mental health and suicide prevention: why focus on primary care

Restoring government control across Central African Republic is ‘key’ to lasting peace, stability – UN envoy

Don’t take African generosity towards refugees for granted, says UN refugee chief

UN agencies call for more resettlement and end to detention of asylum seekers in Libya

EU-Russia summit in the shadows of Kiev’s fumes

Make no mistake: the purpose of business is to serve society

Brexiteer May gets lip-service from Trump and Turkish promises from Erdogan

A digital tax sounds like a great idea. Here’s why it might not be universally popular

UN report on Syria conflict highlights inhumane detention of women and children

Ukraine: The West and Russia negotiate shares of influence

EU Parliament: It takes real banks to fight unemployment and recession

Service and Sacrifice: Guinean peacekeepers make their mark in Mali

China and China-EU Relations in the New Era

ITU Telecom World 2018 takes place in Durban, South Africa

The US-Mexico trade deal a threat for others, Trump to single out China, Europe

Greferendum: the biggest political gaffe in western modern history to tear Europe apart? #Grexit #Graccident

UN Security Council offers Yemen Special Envoy ‘their full support’

MWC 2016 LIVE: EC adds Brazil to partner tally

Road safety: Data show improvements in 2018 but further concrete and swift actions are needed

The Sting’s Values

China in my eyes

Service and Sacrifice: Ugandan ‘Blue Helmets’ support UN efforts to bring peace to Somalia

Bundesbank’s President Weidmann criticises France and the EU. Credibility at risk?

Why women aren’t allowed to work

The 100-year climate catastrophe of Mont Blanc

Economic sentiment and business climate stagnate in miserable euro area

‘Stand united against anti-Muslim hatred’ urges Guterres, after mosque shootings in New Zealand leave 49 dead

Prisons are failing. It’s time to find an alternative

Still recovering from devastating cyclones, Mozambique, in UN address, warns of global warming’s ‘nefarious consequences’

5 things to know about the Western Balkans

Commission presents EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements for signature and conclusion

What keeps me up at night? Two strategists reply

Collaboration and connectivity at ITU Telecom World 2019

Hungary: people born in the 2020s won’t have legal rights any more to buy tobacco

UN highlights profound implication of population trends on sustainable development

The mental health of health professionals: is it worth it?

The world just took a step closer to eradicating polio

Global Citizen – Volunteer Internships

A few, or rather two, trade and economic alliances may rule our brave new world

Upgraded EU visa information database to increase security at external borders

MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future

Privatisation and public health: a question of Human Rights

Why a healthy planet and a healthy economy go hand-in-hand

“If the job market doesn’t exist, then even the most brilliant Youth Guarantee cannot ensure a job to these young people”, European Youth Forum Secretary General Giuseppe Porcaro on another Sting Exclusive

The future of suicide and depression prevention

These countries have some of the highest voter turnout in the world

On World Day to Combat Desertification, UN shines spotlight on ‘true value’ of land

To beat hunger and combat climate change, world must ‘scale-up’ soil health – UN

UN chief laments ending of Cold War-era disarmament treaty

10 reasons why today’s cyber leaders are tomorrow’s world leaders

The world to teach Germans to…un-German

Europe’s richest regions actively seek investment from China’s biggest banks

How distorted is the EU labour market by this crisis?

Boris to end up in jail if he loses the next elections?

‘€1 million’ fines for rescue boats prompts UN concern for future sea operations

Why artificial intelligence is learning emotional intelligence

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s