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Information and communications technology (ICT) has become an indispensable tool in our daily lives. The evolution of ICT through the Internet is making the globe a community that can create, share and acquire information and knowledge across locations and time. The impact of ICT on economic and social development is what we call the Third Industrial Revolution.

With the advent of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, cloud computing and the Internet of things (IoT), the world is experiencing a revolutionary transition from a knowledge-based society to an intelligence-based society, and we call this the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Yet, the digital divide is widening between developed and developing countries, and between urban and rural areas in a country. If this widening digital divide is not addressed, it will adversely affect the ability of less connected countries to deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With rapid advancements in technology, there is a growing demand for fibre-optic cables (FOCs) that can ensure the delivery of broadband data. However, development of the national FOC infrastructure has been uneven. Many countries have deployed FOCs to meet telecommunications need, but some countries are still using copper-wired cables with limited bandwidth.

As the cost of building the FOC infrastructure is high, developing countries usually rely on the privatized telecom operators to build and expand the FOC network for broadband connectivity. Under such circumstances, infrastructure co-deployment is a solution to accelerating the development of the FOC infrastructure. This working paper examines ICT infrastructure co-deployment with the transport and energy infrastructure in North and Central Asia, with a focus on three countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.

Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division [email protected]