February 28, 2022
The availability of infrastructure alone is no guarantee for digital inclusion, according to a panel of speakers at Mobile World Congress 2022.
Adrian Baschnonga, panel chair and global TMT lead analyst at EY, called device and service affordability, digital literacy and technology skills “vital drivers” to achieve greater levels of inclusion related to disability, age and gender.
During the pandemic, mobile connectivity was the lifeblood of socioeconomic cohesion during lockdown, according to Baschnonga. And yet, the EY analyst suggested that despite uptakes in digital health and digital education apps, the gap between the digital haves and have-nots increased during the COVID crisis.
Robert Opp, chief digital officer from the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), affirmed Baschnonga’s suggestion, adding that the pandemic highlighted digital divides “much more urgently than we thought before.”
“As governments moved to digital platforms to continue to provide services, digital became a lifeline,” Opp said. “But if you’re not connected, then you’re not able to benefit from those services. It’s not just a matter of connectivity and infrastructure, but usage, skills, affordability.”
Opp called for a more “holistic, multi-sectoral approach” to tackling the digital divide, encompassing industry as a whole.
One industry player on the panel was Antoine de Clerck, societal responsibility animation director at Orange.
He told the audience that promoting is “simply a question of sustainability.”
“We cannot be sustainable in the long term if half of the population is excluded from accessing basic services. It’s part of our core business that we operate in an inclusive way.”
From a thought-leader perspective, an increasing number of CEOs are talking about how their businesses impact society, the communities they serve and the planet, not just how they’re doing financially, according to Alix Jagueneau, head of external affairs & industry purpose at GSMA.
Jagueneau highlighted various CEOs speaking in the opening day one keynote as examples of how CEOs are increasingly talking about thought leadership and societal impacts.
This article first appeared in IoT World Today’s sister publication AI Business.
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