What will the ICT world look like by 2020?
The Connect 2020 Agenda outlines a broad range of goals and targets that countries worldwide have committed to achieve by 2020. Will the Caribbean succeed in meeting those goals?
At an International Telecommunications Union conference last week, meeting participants unanimously adopted the ‘Connect 2020 Agenda for Global Telecommunication/ICT Development’. The Agenda outlines the shared vision, goals and targets that Member States have committed to achieve by 2020.
The Connect 2020 Agenda focuses of four key areas: growth, inclusiveness, sustainability, and innovation and partnership, for which the following goals and targets have been established:
Goal 1: Growth – Enable and foster access to and increased use of telecommunication/ICT
- Target 1.1: Worldwide, 55% of households should have access to the Internet by 2020
- Target 1.2: Worldwide, 60% of individuals should be using the Internet by 2020
- Target 1.3: Worldwide, telecommunication/ICT should be 40% more affordable by 2020
Goal 2: Inclusiveness –Bridge the digital divide and provide broadband for all
- Target 2.1.A: In the developing world, 50% of households should have access to the Internet by 2020
- Target 2.1.B: In the least developed countries (LDCs), 15% of households should have access to the Internet by 2020
- Target 2.2.A: In the developing world, 50% of individuals should be using the Internet by 2020
- Target 2.2.B: In the least developed countries (LDCs), 20% of individuals should be using the Internet by 2020
- Target 2.3.A: The affordability gap between developed and developing countries should be reduced by 40% by 2020
- Target 2.3.B: Broadband services should cost no more than 5% of average monthly income in developing countries by 2020
- Target 2.4: Worldwide, 90% of the rural population should be covered by broadband services by 2020
- Target 2.5.A: Gender equality among Internet users should be reached by 2020
- Target 2.5.B: Enabling environments ensuring accessible telecommunication/ICT for persons with disabilities should be established in all countries by 2020
Goal 3: Sustainability – Manage challenges resulting from the telecommunication/ICT development
- Target 3.1: Cybersecurity readiness should be improved by 40% by 2020
- Target 3.2: Volume of redundant e-waste to be reduced by 50% by 2020
- Target 3.3: Greenhouse Gas emissions generated by the telecommunication/ICT sector to be decreased per device by 30% by 2020
Goal 4: Innovation and partnership – Lead, improve and adapt to the changing telecommunication/ICT environment
- Target 4.1: Telecommunication/ICT environment conducive to innovation
- Target 4.2: Effective partnerships of stakeholders in telecommunication/ICT environment
Based on the targets set, it is readily evident that the Connect 2020 Agenda complements and draws extensively upon earlier initiatives, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the UN Broadband Commission, and the still to be finalized Post 2015 Development Agenda. Hence to a considerable extent countries should already have been working towards most of those targets.
Will the Caribbean succeed in meeting those goals?
As at the time of publishing, we have just over 5 years to 2020. Although some of the targets will be measured globally, the effort of all countries individually, including those in the Caribbean, will be essential to achieve those goals. Based on our latest Snapshots on Internet affordability and service penetration, the region may still have a long way to go:
- The average subscription density for fixed broadband Internet across the Caribbean as at 2013 was approximately 14 subscription lines per 100 inhabitants.
- Averaged across the region, a broadband Internet plan with a download speed of up to 2 Mbps would consume 5.7% of the average consumer’s monthly income (May 2014).
- Further, with regard to the targets established for the sustainability goal (Goal 3), most Caribbean countries have not yet addressed cybersecurity, electronic waste, or greenhouse gas emissions to any significant degree.
It is also important to highlight that some of the targets require improvements to be measured against a previous reference. For example “cybersecurity readiness should be improved by 40% by 2020” and “volume of redundant e-waste to be reduced by 50% by 2020” (Goal 3, targets 1 and 2, respectively). Hence in order to successfully make such as a comparison, it implies that an earlier assessment to determine the status of the area of focus had been made.
Unfortunately the Caribbean still has not developed a culture of conducting regularly reviews and developing a body of data from which to make informed decisions. It therefore means that although we might improve across several of the targets of the Connect 2020 Agenda, we might not know by how much, nor will we be able to fully appreciate how far we have come.
Image credit: Danilo Rizzuti (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)