DUBAI: An estimated 47 percent of people worldwide are offline, and the cost of available broadband exceeds affordability targets in 50 percent of developed countries. The importance of making such populations digitally inclusive was discussed during the World Economic Forum EDISON Alliance discussion a couple of days ago.
During the discussion, Crescent Enterprises CEO Badr Jafar, underlined the importance of addressing global challenges by adopting innovative investment models conducive to ensuring digital inclusion.
Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon and Chairman of the EDISON Alliance, Ruth Porat, Senior Vice-President and CFO of Google, and Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Co-Founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation participated in the discussion moderated by Quartz Media Editor-in-Chief Katherine Bell.
EDISON Alliance is a global movement of private and public sector champions committed to prioritizing digital inclusion for the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The discussion was held against the backdrop of the EDISON Alliance 1 Billion Lives Challenge, a challenge to improve 1 billion lives globally by 2025 through affordable and accessible digital solutions.
Jafar, an appointed Champion of the Edison Alliance, stressed that digital inclusion is a means to an end, “Addressing the global challenges that humanity and our habitat faces is, of course, the ultimate goal. Technology is a means to that end, and it isn’t the agent of change, either. We, the connected people, are the true agents of change. And history will judge us on whether we really used these tools for the collective betterment of humanity and our planet.”
According to a recent report by the Middle East Institute, the UAE’s information and communications technology spending is estimated to reach $23 billion by 2024.
Jafar said connecting the unconnected is vital to economic growth as an estimated 70 percent of new value created in the economy over the next decade will be based on digitally-enabled platforms.