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Prime Minister Cites ICT Connectivity as Key to Inclusive Growth

November 21, 2013 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in her keynote address at the Connect Asia-Pacific Summit 2013, has stated that ICT connectivity is key to inclusive growth and development.
The summit was co-hosted in Bangkok by Thailand and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on 18 November 2013.

In her address, the Prime Minister said, “Growth must benefit and involve everyone. On the part of governments, we can support inclusive growth by having our public services, from health care to education to public safety, reach everyone, in particular in remote and less developed areas. At the global level, we need to make enhanced ICT connectivity part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”

She said that ICT enhances trade and investment. “By connecting businesses to customers and sources of finance from around the world, SMEs can benefit. Some have calculated that SMEs investing 30 percent of their budget on web technologies grow nine times faster than those that invest only 10 percent. ICT also helps lower the costs of doing business for SMEs, making them be more competitive.”

The Prime Minister said that ICT also helps close gender gaps. It has been estimated that bringing 600 million more women on line can increase global GDP by 13-18 billion US dollars.

Most importantly, she said, “ICT empowers people. Better access to information and finance empowers the individual. A well informed citizen is the backbone of a strong democracy. Individual with better access to finances can be a more productive member of society. Globally, ICT has played a key role in advancing MDGs for many countries.

“For health, remote monitoring and diagnosis has helped countries achieve better health coverage. This has allowed medical care to reach areas that have never received sufficient medical care before. For education, ‘Open Education Resources’ and use of computer tablets have also led to wider and more effective education.

“In Thailand, the government has also made these policies one of our top priorities. We have distributed computer tablets with educational software to schoolchildren. We are enhancing ICT capabilities and coverage in schools and promoting long-distance learning.

“One of the biggest challenges is the digital divide between countries, especially for the Least Connected Countries. Right now, 80 percent of households in developed countries have internet access, while in developing countries, only 28 percent have it.

“Another major challenge is the misuse of ICT connectivity by individuals or groups. This results in cybercrimes, cyber terrorism and violations of privacy. Both of these challenges should be addressed if we are to have a truly connected global community.”

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