Chinese tech giant Huawei announced that it was joining the International Telecommunication Union's Partner2Connect (P2C) digital Coalition on Wednesday, which will bring connectivity to nearly 120 million people in remote areas in 80 countries by 2025.
The announcement was made by Huawei's Chairman Liang Hua at the company's 2022 Sustainability Forum. Under the theme "Connectivity+: Innovate for Impact, " the forum explored how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) innovation drives broader connectivity, creates greater business and social value, and promotes sustainability in the digital era. Hundreds of guests and media representatives worldwide attended the forum in person or online.
"Connectivity plays an important role in every aspect of our lives. It makes lives easier and healthier, economies stronger, and the environment greener," said Liang.
However, he noted that bringing stable connectivity to all is "still a challenge." According to the GSMA's Mobile Economy Report 2022, the mobile ‘usage gap' – those who live in areas covered by mobile broadband networks but remain unconnected - stood at 3.2 billion people, or 41 percent of the world population, in 2021. "There is still a long way to go before everyone has easy access to quality Internet services," he said.
"It is essential for the benefits of digital technologies to reach everyone, because we believe that connectivity is not just the cornerstone of the digital economy, but a basic right for every human being," he added.
Siddharth Chatterjee, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China, shared Liang’s view, calling for the digital divide to be closed. He pointed out the "sober reality" that 2.7 billion people - or one-third of the world's population – will remain unconnected to the internet in 2022.
"Today, as we reach the milestone of 8 billion people worldwide, we should consider whether every member of our human family has a decent chance to share in the benefits of the digital age," Chatterjee said. "It is imperative that we expand our horizons to ensure that all people worldwide have access to digital technologies."
Chatterjee also encouraged more digital cooperation between policymakers, the private sector, academia, and civil society to "create new jobs, boost financial inclusion, close the gender gap, spur a green recovery and redesign our world to be more prosperous and inclusive."
During the forum, ITU Deputy Secretary-General Malcolm Johnson expressed gratitude for Huawei's P2C pledges in rural connectivity and digital skills. He also spoke highly of the company's achievements in contributing to a higher level of digitalization in remote regions, enabling rural populations to enjoy the convenience of digital life and promoting the balanced development of the global digital economy.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technologies. With the aim of fostering meaningful connectivity and digital transformation globally, the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition is a multi-stakeholder alliance launched by ITU in close cooperation with the Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology.