Information and Communications Technologies Vital for Social Inclusion Reveals New Study
The World Economic Forum today released its study on Scaling Opportunity: Information and Communications Technology for Social Inclusion, an analysis of how ICT is evolving to address the social and economic needs of the poor. The study notes that, as 4 billion people have access to the global communications infrastructure, the opportunity to create innovative and inclusively tailored solutions for connecting the unconnected is extraordinary.
The report notes that a primary catalyst of change in closing the connectivity gap is the accelerated adoption of mobile phones within emerging economies. Robust market competition, affordable pricing, liberalized regulation and bottom-up innovation have coalesced to create a vibrant multistakeholder ecosystem.
Along with highlighting the rapid adoption rate of mobile phone usage within emerging economies, the report focuses on the question: “What’s next?” While the adoption of baseline voice and data services has been shown to have a material economic and social impact in emerging economies, it is essential that the evolution of communication services remains economically sustainable, innovative and socially inclusive.
“The widespread adoption of networked communications technologies has created humanity’s most pervasive global platform,” noted William H. Dutton, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, United Kingdom, and member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Mobile Communications. “We are at a unique moment in time to leverage this platform to improve lives globally.”
Within the context of rural and remote regions of emerging economies, the report highlights some of the key factors shaping the evolution of ICT. In particular, it focuses on the opportunity to move beyond small-scale pilots to unlock the efficiencies of global scale. Along with noting key requirements for scaling the communications infrastructure in a low-carbon and economically viable manner, the report also addresses the need for appropriately tailoring value-added services to meet the complex and changing needs of the poor.
Written in close collaboration with leading experts from the World Economic Forum’s Telecommunications Industry Partner community as well as the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Mobile Communications, this work is the third in a three-part series highlighting the potential for ICT to serve as a catalyst for positive social, economic and environmental change.