Cross-sector collaboration is needed to lower the costs of rural area connectivity and improve digital literacy to close the digital divide and drive economic recovery during the pandemic, experts said at a webinar recently.
The Financial Times and Huawei organised the event "Strategies for Addressing the Asia-Pacific Digital Divide – Increasing Connectivity to Drive Economic Recovery."
The Asia Pacific is speeding up for digital transformation and underpinned by dynamic markets and a young population.
The significant rift of digital access yet hinders wider shares of digital benefits, which in turn leads to slower recovery from the pandemic. ICT leverages fundamental ways to drive economic rebound.
"This starts with fair access to digital services specifically on connecting the unconnected," said Michael Macdonald, the chief digital officer of Huawei Asia Pacific.
The ICT talent shortage is one of the key fields revealing the digital divide.
Poon King Wang, director of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, Singapore University of Technology and Design, called for long-term strategies and sustained support to upskill people across generations and ensure the wellbeing of workers in digital transformation.
In 2017, Huawei, the ICT Division of Bangladesh, and Robi Axiata jointly launched the Digital Training Bus project to bring digital skills to women in the heart of rural Bangladesh. More than 60,000 women have received training till now, and 160,000 more will benefit from it by 2023.
To lessen the imminent labour deficit in APAC, 400,000 more people are expected to be digitally upskilled in the next five years through Huawei educational flagship programs such as Seeds for the Future and ASEAN Academy, according to Michael MacDonald.