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LACK OF INVESTMENT AND THE RISE OF PROTECTIONISM WILL LIMIT THE SPREAD OF INTERNET CONNECTIVITY

4 Sep 2020

LACK OF INVESTMENT AND THE RISE OF PROTECTIONISM WILL LIMIT THE SPREAD OF INTERNET CONNECTIVITY 

  • UNIDO Director General: “We should stand together to fight against protectionism”
  • ITU Secretary General: “We would like to see everybody connected affordably by 2030”
  • Estimated 3.8bn people not connected to the internet, most living in developing and Least Developed Countries
  • Africa could need investment of $100bn to achieve universal, affordable and good quality internet access by 2030
  • Public-private partnerships essential to develop digital infrastructure 

Hannover, Germany – September 4, 2020: Lack of investment and the rise of protectionism threaten the world’s ability to spread internet connectivity to almost half of the global population who currently live without it, according to LI Yong, Director-General, UNIDO, and Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General, ITU, who addressed the Virtual Edition of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (#GMIS2020) held on September 4-5.

More than half the world’s population is now online, however connecting the rest of the world’s citizens, estimated at around 3.8 billion people, could prove far tougher and take many more years as they reside in developing or Least Developed Countries (LDCs) where connectivity rates can be below 20%. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is considered a prerequisite for countries to achieve sustainable development and adopt the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.

Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General, ITU said the pandemic had demonstrated that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is more important than ever for human society. However, he pointed out that, by some estimates, investment of around $100bn could be required to achieve universal, affordable and good quality internet access just in Africa by 2030.

“We would like to see everybody connected affordably by 2030, so this is a real challenge,” Zhao said. “Those that are not connected yet live mainly in poor or remote areas, and you cannot just use the same strategy to bring these people online. This will require investment and the only way is through public-private partnerships. And in the ICT field, we know that the majority of investments come from private sector.”

LI Yong, Director-General, UNIDO agreed that funding for infrastructure was an issue but that this also had to go hand-in-hand with government policies to initiate digitalisation programmes. He added: “The second part is the private sector should be actively encouraged to be involved in digital technology development. This is a very important process and the international community also needs to be united, particularly when we talk about the big gap between the advanced countries and developing countries.”

Asked how countries would work together to find the investment needed to achieve universal connectivity when some countries, notably the US and China, have been withdrawing into intellectual protectionism, Yong said: “Protectionism is really an obstacle to multilateralism and to technology advancement. And also, it will hurt the private sector’s ability to innovate. And this is something that will stop things moving forward. We should stand together to fight against protectionism.”

The panel titled ‘Gearing up for a Manufacturing Renaissance’ was held on the first day of the #GMIS2020 Virtual Summit. The Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit is a joint initiative by the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Under the theme – Glocalisation: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Global Value Chains, the third edition of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (#GMIS2020) has gathered a cross-section of close to 100 global leaders from the world’s public and private sector to participate across more than 20 virtual sessions to discuss pathways to accelerate the role of fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies to build more resilient global value chains and restore prosperity in a post-pandemic world.

END

Note to Editors

Media Collateral

Photo captions:

  • Image 1 – Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General, ITU
  • Image 2 – LI Yong, Director-General, UNIDO 

About GMIS:
The Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) was established in 2015 to build bridges between manufacturers, governments and NGOs, technologists, and investors in harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s (4IR) transformation of manufacturing to enable the regeneration of the global economy. A joint initiative by the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), GMIS is a global platform that presents stakeholders with an opportunity to shape the future of the manufacturing sector and contribute towards global good by advancing some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The first two editions of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit were held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in March 2017, and Yekaterinburg, Russia in July 2019, respectively, with each edition welcoming over 3,000 high-level delegates from over 40 countries.

GMIS 2020, the third edition of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, will be held virtually as a sequence of digital series starting June 2020 followed by a virtual Summit in September 2020, and will focus on glocalisation.

To learn more about GMIS, please visit https://gmisummit.com/ and follow GMIS on Twitter:  @GMISummit, Instagram: @gmisummit, LinkedIn: GMIS – Global Manufacturing & Industrialisation Summit, and Facebook: @GMISummit.

Press Contact:
Reethu Thachil
Communications Manager
M Three Marcomms LLC, Press Office for:
Global Manufacturing & Industrialisation Summit
Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity
+971 58 847 6870/ reethu@m3media.com

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