Experts for increasing digital connectivity to alleviate poverty in rural areas

Published : 26 Jul 2021 11:37 PM

Business Desk

Cross sectors collaboration is needed to lower the costs of rural area connectivity and improve digital literacy, which will help to close the digital divide and drive economic recovery during the pandemic, experts opined at a webinar 

Huawei organised the webinar jointly with Financial Times recently on “Strategies for Addressing the Asia-Pacific Digital Divide - Increasing Connectivity to Drive Economic Recovery.”

The Asia Pacific is speeding up for digital transformation and underpinned by dynamic markets and young population. The significant rift of digital access yet hinders wider shares of digital benefits, which in turn leads to slower recovery from the pandemic. ICT leverages fundamental ways to drive economic rebound.

“This starts with fair access to digital services specifically on connecting the unconnected,” said Michael Macdonald, Chief Digital Officer of Huawei Asia Pacific, who conveyed Huawei’s agenda on consolidating three major pillars to tender digital divide in the region: ICT connectivity, talents’ vitality, and green technology. 

The importance of digital inclusion is echoed by Yin Haitao, professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Antai College of Economics and Management, whose newly released a report on using ICT solutions to promote economic development and alleviate poverty. 

The report, named “Digital Involvement and Poverty Alleviation: A Huawei Approach,” was co-authored by Yin and Chris Marquis, Professor at Samuel C. Johnson College of Business, Cornell University. The domain of corporate sustainability has long faced the challenge of making projects of this nature financially viable. The RuralStar program aims to lower the ICT costs through innovation so that local carriers are able to offer commercially viable digital connection services in remote and rural areas, according to the report. 

On this concern, Poon King Wang, Director of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), called for long-term strategies and sustained support to upskill people across generations and ensure the wellbeing of workers in digital transformation.

Sofia Shakil, Director of the Economic Programs, Asia Foundation, addressed the negative impact of the pandemic on women unemployment and the urgency to invest in skills building.