Digital connectivity for development

Organised by GIZ, Bonn

Digital transformation and connectivity are at the top of the agenda around the world, from board rooms to ministerial chambers. While the pace of change has been quick and access is growing in many places, it is important that we purposefully strive together towards a digital domain that delivers for all. According to the 2020 ITU ICT indicators, only 44.5% of individuals in Asia and Pacific use the internet, compared to 82% in Europe, despite the EU and Asia Pacific being the two regions with the highest proportions of both mobile-cellular and mobile internet coverage in the world. The digital divide varies strongly, however, not only between the two regions, but among the countries and within each country along factors such as gender and urban-rural geography.

To truly make progress towards a digital domain that delivers for all, we will have to think and work first of all in a human-centric way. And secondly, we need to work in parallel on the multiple levels that lie between individuals and meaningful digital engagement – whether those barriers lie on planes of infrastructure, access, content availability, language, digital literacy/skills, culture, or beyond.

In this panel, we seek to put international development at the centre of the digital connectivity debate and specifically explore the digital usage gap. Our speakers will share expertise about the current state of digital connectivity in Asia, and how the digital divide is developing and changing given not only the technical advances but also given the economic and societal challenges of our times. Further, we will discuss the way forward and how partnerships and ecosystems can play into this. For example: How is it most helpful to define digital connectivity within the development context in Asia? What should development-focused partnerships within and between Asia and Europe prioritize in order to be most relevant and impactful going forward? What actions are needed to promote the EU’s open, human-centred approach to digital development in the region?