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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

04 December 2020

Opening Address


Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen, 

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated our transition to the digital age revealing challenges, needs and opportunities. It has also highlighted the key role government policy plays in strengthening digital connectivity for digital transformation.  

Allow me to highlight two policy priorities for your discussions and further reflections: 

First on the supply side, the availability of broadband Internet infrastructure is the essential condition. Without affordable and resilient broadband networks, the benefits of smart cities and smart nations, intelligent transport systems, cross-border paperless trade and e-commerce cannot become a reality. 

We therefore need a big push in investment planning to leapfrog into the next generation networks, and for some countries, including some members of the Eurasian Development Bank from 2G/3G straight into 5G or even near-future 6G. To a certain extent, COVID-19 recovery packages can help build digital infrastructure for the present and future.

Second, on the demand side, we need to improve the development and consumption of internet content. By doing so digital dividends can be shared across generations and help preserve intergenerational values and bonds. As a United Nations regional commission, ESCAP has been supporting its member States through the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) initiative in addressing cross-border infrastructure connectivity gaps and building e-resilience for crisis preparedness.

In this regard, we are also pleased to see the progress made in North and Central Asia on potential cross-border pilot ‘smart corridors’ consisting of the co-deployment of fibre optic cables along road infrastructure in support of intelligent transport systems. We are also supporting similar initiatives involving smart energy grids.    

Ladies and gentlemen, 

ESCAP stands ready to accelerate progress towards sustainable digital connectivity, transformation and innovation by deepening meaningful cooperation and partnerships with North Central Asian member States and the Eurasian Development Bank on the basis of the comprehensive MOU signed in 2019.  

I wish you a very successful Congress.



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