Advances in Mobile Services and Broadband are transforming Asia- Pacific Connectivity

Governments in the Asia-Pacific region have agreed to put in place a framework for regional connectivity that harnesses the rapid developments in mobile services and enhances broadband access for all in the region as a means for development.

This was the key outcome of the Second Session of the Committee on Information and Communication Technology (CICT) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), held from 24 November to 26 November 2010.

“Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has opened up an array of previously unimaginable possibilities for even the poorest members of society,” said Undersecretary-General of the UN and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer. “Nowhere is this more evident than in the mobile phone revolution,” Dr Heyzer said, adding that mobile phone usage has reached more than 60 per cent of the population which marks an achievement of the targets set by the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS).

Nevertheless, she cautioned that “we still have much work to do, and that by recalibrating ICT policies towards enhanced economic and social connectivity, and disaster risk reduction, ICTs could become true enablers of the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.”

The Royal Thai Government’s Minister for Science and Technology, Mr. Virachai Virameteekul said in his remarks that disaster events which have happened in the region have “washed away the development gains and aspirations of millions of people” and the global economic crisis has “compelled us to recognize the vulnerabilities of the current financial system and their negative implications to poverty reduction and achievement of MDGs”. He pointed out that technological progress in ICT, including space applications, as a tool for development and for disaster risk reduction is more important than ever before to create and protect sustainable socio-economic development.

Phase one of the Asia Pacific Gateway for Disaster Risk Reduction and Development was also launched. The Gateway, a web portal focused on mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into development planning, will also support an online community of practice on ESCAP promoted regional mechanisms to reduce disaster risks.

The Committee concluded with the recommendation that the members and associate members of ESCAP continue to strengthen cooperation in the development and application of ICTs, including space applications. They should build on new developments such as cloud computing and sourcing, enabled by the rapid advances in mobile devices and broadband networks.

The Committee is organized by the Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division (IDD) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

More details of meeting proceedings and reports can be found