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UN urges to tackle 'digital divide'

Geneva, Nov 16 (IANS) Information and communication technology (ICT) will ultimately serve to improve livelihoods around the globe, only if digital resources are accessible and the challenge of digital divide addressed, a latest UN report on the ICT has said.

According to the Measuring the Information Society Report 2017, released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), concurrent advances in the Internet of Things, big data analytics, cloud computing and artificial intelligence will enable tremendous innovations and fundamentally transform business, government and society, Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

However, the digital divide remains a challenge which needs to be addressed, because the ICT and the digital economy will have the potential to transform the lives of billions only if digital resources are accessible, said ITU Secretary-General Zhao Houlin .

The report finds considerable differences between geographic regions in the levels of ICT development, as well as significant variation in the experience of individual countries within each region, which are mainly associated with levels of economic development.

The least developed countries, which have over the years made progress in improving ICT infrastructure and connectivity, still continue to lag behind on key indicators that can influence their position in the digital economy, such as having the lowest numbers among internet users.

Globally, more than half of households worldwide now have access to the internet, though the rate of growth appears to have fallen below five per cent a year. The report also confirms on a significant progress in terms of bridging the gender digital divide across the regions.

To harness the benefits of a digital revolution, countries will need to facilitate the deployment of next-generation network and service infrastructures, and to adopt policies conducive to experimentation and innovation, while mitigating potential risks to information security, privacy, and employment, the report advises.

This year, Iceland tops the rankings in the ITU’s ICT Development Index, followed by Republic of Korea and Switzerland, while Europe has the highest average score value among world regions.

As the ITU’s flagship publication, the annual Measuring the Information Society Report is recognized as the most authoritative repository of data and analysis on the state of global ICT development. It is extensively relied upon by governments, international organizations, development banks and private sector analysts and investors worldwide.

–IANS
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