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2019

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in cooperation with Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) published a paper on SDG Digital Investment Framework: A whole-of-Government Approach to Investing in Digital Technologies to Achieve the SDGs to support a new dialogue with the digital investment community in line with the global Call to Action presented at the UN General Assembly in 2018. The paper help governments address major investment issues, select efficient technology-based solutions, and optimise on ICT Building Blocks for economies of scale and maximum return on investment. This paper is the first of iteration of a process that shall include the key development priorities entailed in the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The paper posits a framework that focuses on how technology can be deployed across-sector to address issues in main development sectors, such as agriculture, education, and healthcare. It aims to guide governments, donors, technology solution vendors, and other actors in taking a whole-of-government approach to invest in, develop, or implement information and communication technology (ICTs). The ITU and DIAL will apply such framework and update it with new findings accordingly.

The Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development published the 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report which underscores that the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) hinges on overhauling the national and international financial systems in line with sustainable development. More than 60 agencies and international institutions contributed to this report alongside the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, and a several UN organisations. ‘The world cannot achieve the SDGs without a fundamental shift in the international financial system to address urgent global threats,’ emphasised U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed. The report sheds light on the potential of innovation and new emerging technologies for development finances which also represent different challenges. Thus, regulatory frameworks at the national and international levels should be developed in line with the technological changes which include rapid advances in artificial intelligence, mobile access, cryptography, and distributed computing. Such challenges resulted in new risks, i.e. redundancy of labour in developed and developing countries and ventures to financial markets. The report further reinforces the support developing countries need from the international community to enhance technology capabilities, close the digital divide, catch up with technological innovation, and hence advance the SDGs.

The GSM Association (GSMA) launched The Mobile Economy Pacific Islands 2019 report at the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA) 23rd AGM and annual conference which underscores the potential of mobile technology in the Pacific region. GSMA provided that Pacific Islands are on the verge of a digital revolution which would be espoused by the cooperation between the government and the mobile ecosystem. “This is an exciting time for the Pacific Islands as it stands on the cusp of a digital revolution and mobile technology will play a pivotal role in this transformation, providing access to life-enhancing services such as health and education and acting as a catalyst for innovation and economic growth,” noted GSMA Director General Mats Granryd. The report highlights how financial inclusion was improved since 2008 through the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) and how the launch of 4G connections in 2018 would boost mobile broadband and hence digital transformation. Yet, there are some infrastructure challenges in many countries, such as insufficient infrastructure, switchover process, and scarcity of international internet bandwidth. Finally, the report provides that for Pacific Islands to unlock the full potential of mobile, they need to improve digital divide, enhance access to sufficient spectrum for better coverage and capacity, and provide affordable and high-quality mobile services. 

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) kicked off the eTrade for Women Network during the fifth UNCTAD eCommerce Week on 1-5 April 2019 in Geneva. The network aims to empower women in developing countries through improving the profile of women leaders engaged in the digital economy and making their voices heard in policy processes both domestically and internationally. ‘A systematic effort to collect, nurture and enhance the experiences of women involved in e-commerce is needed,’ elaborated UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant. To this aim, the eTrade for Women Network was developed for four main reasons: 1- visibility: to increase the visibility of successful women entrepreneurs in e-commerce in developing countries, 2- largesse: to provide them with a relevant network of peers, 3- Inspiration: to inspire the next generation of women entrepreneurs and e-business leaders in developing countries, and 4- learning: to highlight good practices emerging from the field that are likely to add value to existing gender initiatives.

The GSM Association (GSMA) released a report on mobile-enabled digital transformation in Uganda in co-operation with the government of Uganda and a number of international development agencies. The report was launched during a high-level round table that examined how Uganda could advance the national and global sustainable development agenda through mobile-enabled digital transformation. The report was accompanied by a draft action plan to be implemented during the next two years which highlights several mobile-enabled activities that would overcome some of the local challenges across different sectors and hence progress development goals. There are five areas where mobile technology is impacting Uganda: (a) productivity and efficiency, (b) service delivery, (c) good governance and social justice, (d) climate change and the environment, and (e) digital entrepreneurship and emerging technologies. The study notes that three key mobile services, namely connectivity, mobile money, and cellular Internet of things (IoT), are driving digital transformation in Uganda through supporting the priority areas in the national development plan and achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). Yet, more co-operation among stakeholders is still required to improve digital and financial inclusion to underserved communities and further promote mobile-enabled solutions in the Ugandan national development plan.

Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Ltd. partners with 40 universities in Nigeria to establish a Huawei Authorised Information and Network Academy (HAINA) and provide industrially recognised information and communication technology (ICT) certification in networks, routing, and switching. In addition to connectivity, Huawei has been working in enhancing ICT skills and talents among practitioners in Nigeria by providing training to 20 000 ICT engineers who are currently managing the network of the country. ‘Since starting operations in Nigeria in 1999, Huawei has been working with local operators to providing safe, stable and high-quality communication networks in the country; currently covering about half of the population,’ said Huawei’s Managing Director Zhang Lulu. During a media event in Lagos, Lulu also reiterated the firm’s commitment to achieve digital inclusion in Nigeria through improving ICT infrastructure with quality and innovative solutions that are crafted to meet local needs and promoting ICT knowledge and skills among youth.

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