The tech giant aims to bring connectivity to about 120mn people in remote areas in more than 80 countries by 2025, and develop digital talent.
Huawei has signed a global commitment to join the Partner2Connect digital alliance launched by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), announced by Dr. Hua Liang, Chairman of Huawei, at the company's 2022 Sustainability Forum, Connectivity+: Innovate for Impact, held on 23 November 2022 in Shenzhen.
Under this development, the tech giant aims to bring connectivity to about 120mn people in remote areas in more than 80 countries by 2025, and develop digital talent to bridge the digital divide.
Liang stressed that connectivity will be more than just a tool for convenient communications, but the cornerstone of the digital economy and a basic right for every human being.
"Together with digital technologies like cloud and AI, connectivity will help bring everyone into the digital world, and provide them with access to more information and skills, better services, and wider business opportunities. This will, in turn, drive further social and economic development," he said.
However, Liang pointed out that many people around the world remain unconnected, and bringing stable connectivity to all is still a challenge.
According to the GSMA's Mobile Economy Report 2022, only 6% of the world's population lives in areas without mobile network coverage. But a huge usage gap remains, as many people who have coverage still don't use the Internet. In 2021, the usage gap was 3.2bn people, or 41% of the world's population.
The reasons for the usage gap are generally related to a lack of affordability, relevance, knowledge and skills, in addition to safety and security concerns. Furthermore, the barriers to mobile internet adoption are particularly acute among certain segments of the population, including women, the elderly, those in rural areas and persons with disabilities.
"So connecting them is the first step. This will give them greater access to knowledge, digital skills training, and opportunities," said Liang.
Enhancing digital literacy and developing digital talent
Liang highlighted that digital transformation, digital talent, and new business models are all essential for balanced development in remote regions. Huawei, therefore, announced previously that by 2025, with the improved ICT infrastructure, the company will work with partners to enable 500mn people to enjoy digital financial services, and 500,000 people to enjoy inclusive education.
In Cambodia, the ITU's first P2C partner country, Huawei will work with government departments through the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and universities to provide 10,000 training opportunities for ICT professionals in the next five years.
The company also supports inclusive development, and is working to drive broader digital inclusion through its 'TECH4ALL' programme. By the end of 2021, the programme had helped more than 110,000 people, including teachers and students from over 400 schools, and unemployed young people, learn new digital skills and improve their scientific and technological literacy. In addition, the accessibility functions on Huawei devices help 4.4mn visually impaired users and over 800,000 hearing impaired users use digital technology more seamlessly each month.
"The development of digital talent is another key factor. Smart education, including online lecturing, is enabling more people to improve their digital skills and literacy," shared Liang.
"Once equipped with these skills, they will benefit far more from digital technologies and the social value they create. These people will also be able to get better jobs, helping to drive the digital economy forward."
Accelerating digitalisation for SMEs
The digital economy has become a key driver of the global economy. It's estimated that over 50% of global GDP will be digitalised this year.
While digital technology enables more industries to go digital, Liang pointed out that there is a growing digital gap between SMEs and leading enterprises, as the former is working on the first step of digital transformation – trying to get everything connected.
To this end, Huawei announced last year that it will invest US$100mn into its 'Spark Programme' in the Asia Pacific region over the next three years to support the start-ups. "Through this programme, we share our extensive ICT experience and cloud platform resources with start-ups," said Liang. "This gives them the resources needed to go digital and achieve business success."
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