UN High-level thematic debate on digital cooperation and connectivity releases key messages to address the digital divide

The UN General Assembly president Volkan Bozkir produced the summary of the High-Level Thematic Debate on Digital Cooperation and Connectivity, convened under the theme “Whole-of-Society Responses to End the Digital Divide” 27 April 2021. The debate focused on the importance of addressing the digital divide in response to the COVID-19 crisis, response, and recovery efforts and in line with the sustainable development goals (SGDs). The summary pinpointed key messages from this debate including:

  • Urgent action must be taken to end the digital divide by 2030, to accelerate the implementation of the entire 2030 Agenda. The International Telecommunication Union’s Connecting Humanity report estimates that US$ 428 billion is required to connect 90% of the remaining 3 billion people aged ten years and above to broadband internet by 2030, with US$ 100 billion for Africa alone. Access to affordable digital services in the COVID-19 context is not a luxury but a necessity, especially given that broadband and cloud services underpin the 21st century’s infrastructure.
  • Ending the divide will require whole-of-society cooperation, and multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral engagement, including to overcome the ‘energy divide’ to power digital technologies for the nearly 800 million people without electricity; creating enabling regulatory environments and innovative financing models for investments into affordable connectivity and digital devices and applications; upscaling digital skilling and education; and empowering people everywhere through community networks and local content.