ADB's Work to Improve Access to Information and Communication
Global recognition of the benefits of digital technology but also of the risks of digital divides suggests more investment is needed in policy and regulatory frameworks, infrastructure (including connectivity), applications (including contents and services), and capacities and skills.
We live in a digital age in which business and societal interaction increasingly takes place online. Ever faster and cheaper, when it is not entirely new, digital technology allows people to seek, acquire, and share expertise, ideas, services, and technologies locally, nationally, regionally, and around the world. It boosts efficiency and productivity; reduces risks, transaction costs, and barriers to entry; provides the means for sweeping reorganization of business; and generally makes governments, markets, and networks work better. Nevertheless, success does not come out of nowhere: everything points to the need for enabling policy and regulatory frameworks in line with well thought-out investments in digital technology infrastructure at local, national, and regional levels; development of applications; and capacities and skills for development, implementation, and sustainable operation and maintenance.
Digital Technology for Development springs from the desire to leverage digital technology to propel economic and social progress and enhance its effects. Because digital technology can help achieve the aspirational, transformational, and universal objectives of the post-2015 development agenda, four targets of the newly approved 17 Sustainable Development Goals make direct reference to it.
Between 2000 and 2015, ADB extended 402 digital technology-related loans, grants, and technical assistance projects to the value of $11.9 billion to help develop and maintain:
- Digital technology infrastructure, e.g., telecommunications networks, mobile and wireless networks, broadband cable networks, data centers, last-mile internet connectivity, etc.
- Digital technology industries, e.g., digital technology centers of excellence, research/computer laboratories, digital technology-enabled industries such as business process outsourcing, knowledge process outsourcing, software parks, digital technology incubators, etc.
- Digital technology-enabled services, e.g., digital technology applications for education, finance, governance, health, etc.
- Digital technology policy, strategy, and capacity development, e.g., digital technology policy and strategy, telecommunications policy reform, universal access and service, digital technology road maps (national and local), digital technology regulations and laws, digital technology skills training and capacity building, etc.
Fostering greater innovation would bring faster and more inclusive growth in Asia and the Pacific, but this requires action. Quality education, policy and financial support, and strong research and development all help promote innovation.