The European Commission: “ICT must be at the centre of the development agenda”

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, believes that ICT are crucial for development and, therefore, that they must be central to the development agenda.

In her speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City on 21 May, Commissioner Kroes recalled that “access to mobile devices and networks and big data processing are two of the strongest enablers of economic opportunity” and that “digital inclusion is directly linked to increasing GDP.” Therefore, for VP Kroes, “one of the ultimate aims for the post-development agenda 2015 should be, to create a ‘connected world’. Not because ICT is a goal in itself – but because it is the means to our other goals, from health to education, from inclusive growth to gender equality, and more.”

Commissioner Kroes explained that the way to get there is through “coalitions of industry, governments and investors to roll out broadband infrastructure and pool investments” – that is how Europe was able to achieve 100% affordable broadband coverage in October 2013. She also referred to the key actions for closing the digital divide as the 5 ‘i’s:

(i) Building broadband Infrastructure;

(ii) Pooling public and private Investments;

(iii) Stimulating Innovation;

(iv) Facilitating Interaction between stakeholders and, last but not least,

(v) Empowering the individual Initiative.”

For VP Kroes, the Internet must also remain as a shared open platform for inclusion and innovation, and recalled that “this work is underway thanks to Brazil’s internet governance leadership at the NETmundial conference last month.”

Commissioner Kroes concluded that “because digital is everywhere, we need to put digital thinking and digital policies everywhere” and stated that she will help to “push this change once the discussions on new post-2015 framework are finished. Digital champions across the world uniting for a better, connected world […] A connected world is the global basis for sustainable inclusion, growth and environmental protection. Connectivity empowers, and empowerment is our goal.”