Despite progress, Americas region grapples with urban/rural internet gap

The coming World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) will be convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to identify innovative approaches, promote new models of collaboration, and buttress connectivity and digital solutions to achieve the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). To ensure coordination ahead of the WTDC, the International Telecommunication Union (IT) holds Regional Preparatory Meetings (RPM) to cover six different regions. The last RPM was convened for Americans on 26 -27 April 2021 with the participation of 200 policymakers and experts representing 24 Member States from ITU’s Americas Region to identify the regional priorities. Participants pinpointed four main regional information and communication technology (ICT) priorities for the years 2022-2025:

  • Deployment of modern, resilient, secure, and sustainable telecommunication/ICT infrastructure;
  • Enhancement and expansion of digital literacy, skills, and inclusion programs, especially among vulnerable populations;
  • Effective support for the digital transformation and innovation ecosystems in the Americas through scalable, funded, and sustainable connectivity projects; and
  • Development of enabling policy and regulatory environments to connect the unconnected through accessible and affordable telecommunications/ICTs that support the achievement of SDGs and progress towards the digital economy.

‘By early 2020, over three-quarters of the region’s one billion people were using the Internet, and an impressive 90 percent of the region’s youth was online – well above the global average of 69 percent. But the Americas is also a region still grappling with a significant rural/urban divide. Only half of the rural households had a home Internet connection in 2019, compared with almost three-quarters of those in urban areas,’ noted, ITU Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau Doreen Bogdan-Martin.