As the COVID-19 pandemic hastened the adoption of new technologies - “a digital big bang” - ministers from around Asia and the Pacific today agreed to strengthen cooperation in promoting connectivity and a transformation towards a safe and inclusive digital society in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly among those countries lagging most behind.
The First Asia-Pacific Digital Ministerial Conference, organized by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) of the Republic of Korea with the support of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), concluded also with support for implementation of the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway Action Plan 2022-2026 as one of the useful platforms that could strengthen digital cooperation.
“‘Digital by default’ became our new norm through overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic…people had to interact with the rest of the world digitally or not at all,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary ESCAP. “Unfortunately, this also widened and deepened the digital divide both within and among countries, and since digital dividends were not equally distributed, it reinforced economic inequalities.”
In his opening address, Lee Jong-Ho, Minister of Science and ICT of the Republic of Korea, emphasized “the potential of innovation in all fields – including politics, economy, society and culture – by combining hyper-connected networks, artificial intelligence and data.” In addition, he expressed the willingness of the Republic of Korea to contribute its in-depth experiences and policy practices for transforming to new digital paradigms and working towards regional prosperity.
The ministerial conference also included additional events. On 9 November the Asia-Pacific Digital Transformation Forum was held to reflect the views of various actors on digital transformation and innovation, including senior representatives from global ICT/platform companies such as Samsung Electronics, Amazon Web Services, KT, Coupang, GSMA, NAVER Corp, Sergek group. Meanwhile, delegates are scheduled to visit the second office of NAVER on 11 November, the world's first robot-friendly building, to witness and experience “tech convergence buildings” that combine new technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G and cloud computing.