International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General Houlin Zhao (pictured) pointed to connectivity gaps in rural areas as one of the most pressing global issues in the wake of Covid-19 (coronavirus), calling for accelerated network infrastructure deployments to address the problem.
Commenting on an ITU report on mobile connectivity in developing nations, Zhao said swifter deployment of infrastructure is “one of the most urgent and defining issues of our time”.
He noted the pandemic had made the issue more pressing, given a large portion of people are working and studying from home.
ITU data showed rollouts of mobile networks have been slowing gradually since 2017, with the body stating coverage this year is “only 1.3 percentage points higher than 2019”.
It cited a gender divide, lack of skills and affordability as other obstacles to “meaningful participation in a digital society”.
This was found to be especially true in developing markets “where mobile telephony and internet access remain too expensive for many”.
The ITU revealed 19 per cent of people living in rural areas in the least developed countries were covered by a 2G network only, while 17 per cent lacked any access to mobile coverage.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back