Arab Horizon 2030: Digital Technologies for Development

1 Feb 2019

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asian (ESCWA) released a study on Arab Horizon 2030: Digital Technologies for Development. The study examines digital technologies for development in the Arab region within the framework of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through the study, ESCWA aims to promote radical policy changes in utilising digital technologies for sustainable development in the Arab region. To this aim, it identifies proposals and recommendations for harnessing these technologies in social, economic, and human development opportunities. The research tackles seven thematic policy areas relevant to digital technologies and their impact on development goals: digital strategies, ICT sector, ICT infrastructure, cybersecurity, digital divide, e-applications, and e-government. For each policy area, the study provides an in-depth analysis organised under four sections: a) contextualisation of the thematic issue with respect to its impact on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), b) analysis of local policies in Arab countries and the gap with developed countries, c) pinpointing the Horizon 2030 vision and policy change recommendations to fulfill SDGs, and d) outlining business-as-usual trajectory in line with the Horizon 2030 vision. At the end, the study provides a summary of the 2030 vision and the pertinent policy change recommendations for each of the seven areas.

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The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.

Cybersecurity is among the main concerns of governments, Internet users, technical and business communities. Cyberthreats and cyberattacks are on the increase, and so is the extent of the financial loss. 

Yet, when the Internet was first invented, security was not a concern for the inventors. In fact, the Internet was originally designed for use by a closed circle of (mainly) academics. Communication among its users was open.

Cybersecurity came into sharper focus with the Internet expansion beyond the circle of the Internet pioneers. The Internet reiterated the old truism that technology can be both enabling and threatening. What can be used to the advantage of society can also be used to its disadvantage.

The telecommunications infrastructure is a physical medium through which all Internet traffic flows.

The digital divide can be defined as a rift between those who, for technical, political, social, or economic reasons, have access and capabilities to use ICT/Internet, and those who do not. Various views have been put forward about the size and relevance of the digital divide.

 

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