SOUTHEAST Asian nations must expand investments in digital infrastructure to ensure equitable access to technology as economies recover from COVID-19.
“We must close the digital divide by expanding investments in digital infrastructure, by building more and high quality mobile broadband infrastructure while ensuring affordable Internet access and coverage,” said Asian Development Bank (ADB) president Masatsugu Asakawa.
He also said these measures would help enhance access to basic social services such as health and education, in addition to financial services.
“These investments will better equip countries to address the worsening income inequality and disparities in opportunities brought by the pandemic,” noted Asakawa at the Southeast Asia Development Symposium.
He highlighted five key areas where economies in Southeast Asia can work on as they return to the path of sustainable growth:
- Address regional disparities and ensure more equitable access to technology, including an expansion of investments in digital infrastructure to close the “digital divide”, while addressing cyber security.
- Facilitate a green and resilient recovery by promoting investments that drive economic activity toward low-carbon and resilient practices.
- Strengthen regional cooperation and integration by improving cross-border digital connectivity, e-customs systems and electronic cargo tracking systems.
- Deepen institutional capacity for mobilising domestic resources to finance public services while ensuring debt sustainability.
- Incubate, develop, and congregate small-and medium-enterprises with entrepreneurship and technology, supported by an aggregated financial, academic and business ecosystem to help set the stage for tech-based growth.
“ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty,” added Asakawa. – Oct 21, 2020