The chairman of Indian conglomerate Bharti Enterprises, Sunil Bharti Mittal, said on Monday that billions of people around the world were still not connected to the internet, for whom affordability was a key factor.
Speaking during a panel discussion on technology cooperation in the fourth industrial revolution at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda 2022 online summit, he also said that industry alone cannot reach the last mile and that huge investments would be needed in infrastructure to achieve this goal.
Further, Mittal said technology is always a double-edged sword and it becomes the duty of all stakeholders to minimize the downsides of digital connectivity and maximize the benefits.
The technologies of the fourth industrial revolution have already led to transformative advances in many fields.
Panelists discussed how tech players can work together to balance innovation and accountability to maximize the potential of emerging technologies to solve global problems.
Moderated by Observer Research Foundation President Samir Saran, the panel also included Verizon Communications Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg and Rwandan Minister of Information and Communication Technology and Innovation, Paula Ingabire.
Vestberg said being connected to the internet is now a human right.
Mittal said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant appreciation in telecommunications and broadband networks.
They have made virtually everything easier during this pandemic for everyone, from contact tracing to vaccination details, financial services and money transfers, food delivery and much more, he said. -he adds.
Mittal also praised the role of small and medium enterprises and said that no company can sustain itself without a strong supply chain and that SMEs play an important role in this.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has truly shown over the past two years that it is the only way forward to help humanity, he said.
Panelists talked about international cooperation and why it is essential when it comes to technology for societal progress.
Vestberg pointed out that with 3.6 billion people still offline today, we need to use 21st century infrastructure (mobility, broadband and cloud services) to achieve accessible and affordable digital technology and services for all.
Mittal pointed out that many people have the coverage to be online, but not affordably.
If a country like India can provide high quality data at a low monthly cost, the same can be done in marginalized parts of the world, he said.
Key players in the digital ecosystem and governments must come together to provide affordability to those who otherwise could never connect, Mittal noted.
Minister Ingabire highlighted the importance of technology cooperation for governments to address common challenges on the road to recovery from the pandemic.
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