2015 is the European Year for Development. ICT continue to play a crucial role in sustainable development across the world. The 24th of June EIF breakfast debate brought together institutional, civil society and industrial players to discuss the role of ICT solutions in closing the digital divide in the developing regions across the world and how the European Union can enhance Europe’s contribution to sustainable development globally. Julie Ward MEP has proposed, organized and chaired this debate.
In her opening remarks, Julie Ward MEP noted the importance of ICT in fighting poverty and encouraged working harder in women empowerment.
Catherine Flouvat, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Africa & Middle East at Orange, presented the company's projects in developing countries. She explained the company’s strategy for development. It consists of 3 pillars: connectivity; products and services; eco-systems. She explained how this model works in practice with case study of a call center for farmers in Mali.
Read more about Orange initiatives in developing countries in the EIF booklet on ’ICT and Development’
Roberto Ridolfi, Director for Sustainable Growth and Development at DG DEVCO, presented the European Commission's point of view. He spoke about the challenges for ICT in developing countries: lack of ICT expertise, critical infrastructure and open and free culture of inclusive connectivity. He shared his thoughts on how to make public – private partnerships in developing countries more efficient.
Aarti Holla, Secretary General of the EMEA Satellite Operators’ Association - ESOA, spoke about what the satellite industry can offer for the developing world to bridge the digital divide. ESOA and its members works in developing countries are also presented in the EIF booklet on ’ICT and Development’.
Steven Ramage, Director of Strategy at what3words, joined the event over Skype to present their innovative addressing system. At the moment around 4 billion people are living in the areas of poor or no addressing and that means that they are unable to report crime, get deliveries or receive aid and exercise many of their rights as citizens because they simply have no way to communicate where they live. The what3words system has divided the globe into 57 trillion 3m by 3m squares and labelled each area with just three words.
The presentation is available here (pdf download).
At this breakfast debate EIF presented 'ICT and Development', a booklet showcasing concrete examples of the kind of work currently being undertaken by some EIF Business and Associate members in the area of ICT and development. The preface includes an introduction signed by 9 MEPs as well as a letter by Mr. Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.