Digital inclusion is the ultimate way of ending digital divide; EDISON Alliance

By Arya M Nair, Intern Reporter
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The UAE’s information and communications technology (ICT) spending is expected to reach $23 billion by 2024 said experts at a World Economic Forum citing a recent report by the Middle East Institute.

Spending in Saudi Arabia was expected to exceed $37 billion in 2020. While, Qatar’s spending will amount to around $9 billion by 2024, bringing the total spending in the Gulf region’s ICT to $70 billion.

The World Economic Forum EDISON Alliance discussion on Boosting Digital Inclusion was attended by the Crescent Enterprises CEO Mr. Badr Jafar alongside Mr. Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon and Chairman of the EDISON Alliance, Ms. Ruth Porat, Senior Vice-President and CFO of Google, and Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Co-Founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation.

The discussion, moderated by Quartz Media Editor-in-Chief Ms. Katherine Bell, was hosted by the EDISON Alliance, a global movement of private and public sector Champions committed to prioritizing digital inclusion for the fulfillment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was held in the context of the EDISON Alliance 1 Billion Lives Challenge, a challenge that aims to improve 1 billion lives globally by 2025 through affordable and accessible digital solutions.

Badr Jafar
Badr Jafar
CEO
Crescent Enterprises

“Addressing the global challenges that humanity and our habitat face is of course the ultimate goal. Technology is a means to that end, and it isn’t the agent of change, either. We, the connected people, are the true agents of change. And history will judge us on whether we used these tools for the collective betterment of humanity and our planet.”

Mr. Badr Jafar emphasized that digital inclusion is a tool for ending the digital divide, which affects an estimated 47 percent of the world’s population, and that the cost of available broadband exceeds affordability criteria in 50 percent of developed countries.

The importance of approaching the digital divide from a business perspective, given the huge and expanding digital divide between SMEs and larger businesses, was also discussed.

Crescent Enterprises, as an EDISON Alliance partner, seeks to concentrate its efforts on improving the digital capabilities of SMEs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where SMEs account for over 90 percent of all enterprises and are a major source of much-needed job creation and economic growth.

Related: Moody’s upgrades baseline credit assessment of Saudi Telecom Company

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