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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

ITU calls to connect almost 4 billion unconnected individuals globally

There are estimates that nearly 3 billion people will still stay offline in 2020 in the absence of coordinated approach towards connectivity

“New technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence, big data and the internet of things will change how we live, work and learn in ways that have yet to be imagined. And ITU is in the front seat,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU’s secretary-general. Pawan Singh / The National 
“New technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence, big data and the internet of things will change how we live, work and learn in ways that have yet to be imagined. And ITU is in the front seat,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU’s secretary-general. Pawan Singh / The National 

While great progress has been made, there still remain 3.9 billion people around the world who are not connected to the internet yet, according to a survey from the International Telecommunication Union.

“New technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence, big data and the internet of things will change how we live, work and learn in ways that have yet to be imagined. And ITU is in the front seat,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU’s secretary-general.

“The challenge before us today is to ensure that these technologies and ICTs in general continue to be a source for good for everyone across the world."

ITU’s Connect 2020 Agenda calls for up to 50 per cent of households in developing nations to have an internet access by 2020 and also to minimise the price and discrimination which are keeping many offline.

However, ITU estimates that almost 3 billion people will still remain offline in 2020 in the absence of coordinated approach towards connectivity. Most of these will be in developing nations.

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The ITU, which is the United Nations specialised agency for ICTs, is holding its 20th Plenipotentiary conference in Dubai, which opened on Monday.

Currently, out of the total internet users, 49 per cent come from Asia while 16.8 per cent and 3.9 per cent reside in Europe and Middle East respectively, according to Internet World Stats findings till June 30, 2018.

“We face a crucial challenge: harnessing the benefits of new technologies for all, while safeguarding against the risks from their misuse,” António Guterres, United Nations secretary general, said via video-message.

“Digital technologies have a crucial role to play in accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

More than 2500 participants are expected to attend PP-18, which is taking place from 29 October to 16 November.