Excellency, Mr. Lyonpo Loknath Sharma, Minister of Economic Affairs of Bhutan,
Excellency, Mr. Bagdat Mussin, Minister of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry of Kazakhstan,
Excellency, Mr. Mederbek Kurbanbekov, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Digital Development of Kyrgyzstan,
Excellency, Mr. Abdusamat Muminov, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Transport of Uzbekistan,
Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
I warmly welcome you all to the Regional Dialogue on Linking Past and Future Regional Cooperation and Partnerships in Asia and the Pacific.
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the ministers for joining us. Your participation today is a testament to the importance of policy cooperation for transboundary connectivity for landlocked countries.
It is also evidence of our renewed commitment to narrow the digital divide and bring universal connectivity that is reliable and affordable by 2030.
The Internet is a global public good that should benefit everyone, everywhere, and the development of shared principles for an open, free, and secure digital future for all is critical.
With internet usage having risen by about 40 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic, no aspect of daily life is untouched by increasing digitalization, while the un- and under-connected or underserved are being left behind.
In this context, I would like to highlight ESCAP’s three innovative online interactive tools that we hope will provide practical ways of advancing transboundary connectivity, bridging the digital divide and securing a digital future for all.
The first one is the e-resilience monitoring dashboard and its methodological toolkits for digital foresight planning.
Monitoring the readiness of digital networks to withstand and recover from shocks is important because it is the essential condition during crises for successful implementation for initiatives such as e-health, online education, e-commerce and deployment of social protection schemes, just to mention a few examples.
Second, country-level practice shows that infrastructure co-deployment is a cost-effective means of bringing connectivity to sparsely populated areas or challenging terrains.
To further support policymakers and regulators, ESCAP developed a partnership portal. It is a collaborative online workspace that provides information on ICT, transport and energy infrastructure pipeline projects with the potential for co-deployment.
Third, ESCAP developed an infrastructure corridor simulator, which models economic corridor efficiencies.
Policymakers and technical experts are expected to be able to apply this tool to over 100 potential integrated corridors.
Excellencies, distinguished participants,
We will need to sustain these efforts and also other innovative initiatives in the future.
In this regard, I would like to convey my sincerest appreciation to our implementing partners for their support, namely, the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program (CAREC) of the Asian Development Bank, the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries, the eWorldwide Group, and the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations, and Aerospace Industry of Kazakhstan and the Odessa National Academy on Telecommunications and all partners.
I also extend a warm welcome to new partners, including financing institutions, that have joined the meeting today.
As evidence of sustaining the outcomes of the project, the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries in Mongolia has expressed the intention of co-hosting the web-based tools for use by technical experts and policymakers in landlocked developing countries, while Kazakhstan has expressed interest in setting up a “Digital Solutions Centre.”
I am also pleased to inform you that in 2021 the SPECA Economic Forum expressed support for the new online tools and initiatives.
Excellencies, distinguished participants,
Looking forward, we expect that the new Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway Action Plan 2022-2026 owned by the member States will further strengthen regional digital cooperation and integration for sustainable development.
ESCAP stands ready and looks forward to working with all of you to further promote regional cooperation and partnership for a digital future.
Thank you very much.