UNU-EGOV attended the Asia-Pacific Digital Societies Policy Forum 2017, which took place in Bangkok, Thailand, between 8-9 May, through the presence of its Research Fellow Ibrahim Rohman. In his keynote, delivered on the second day, Ibrahim shared his views on how Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), and the telecommunications sector in particular, might help countries increase their fiscal capacity to achieve the targets mandated by the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs). During the keynote, Ibrahim argued that the role of supply-side telecommunications infrastructure development is still playing an important role in sustaining e-government policy, especially in the developing worlds. Based on the study conducted by UNU-EGOV, by introducing a more comprehensive e-government policy, countries might be able to reduce administrative burden cost making it more efficient to do business and, ultimately, combat the shadow economy. Up until 2013, the region was still struggling to combat the shadow economy amounting at 30% of GDP. Basing on World Development Indicator (the World Bank), the size might reach up to 9 trillion USD.
The Forum is organized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and GSM Association (GSMA). It was hosted by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society of Thailand with support from the Australian Government and partners. It is the third in a series of ITU-GSMA Digital Societies Policy Forum for the Asia-Pacific region.
As a region with over 4.5 billion people in 2016, Asia Pacific is inhabited by nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population. The region is very heterogeneous, both geographically and economically. It features seven out of ten most populous countries, while serving as well as the home of some of the world’s smallest island nations in the Pacific. On digital technology, the region is also seeing an accelerating technology migration to 4G led by some technology leaders, such as South Korea, Japan and China, which are currently also driving the development of 5G mobile technologies.
As in other parts of the globe, the region is also envisioning the ambitious 17 targets of the SDGs: a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. In this regard, ITU stated that the mobile telecommunications sector is among the first to commit to help this initiative by introducing several key goals to streamline the achievement of SDGs. The strategies are accentuated by (i) enabling and fostering access to and the use of telecommunications, (ii) creating inclusiveness – bridging the digital divide and providing broadband for all, (ii) achieving sustainability hence managing the challenge with the use of ICT, and (iv) supporting innovation and partnership – leading, improving and adapting to the dynamic of telecommunications industry.