In a world increasingly defined by digital transformation, access to quality digital services has become a key determinant of equitable development. The global digital revolution has undoubtedly expanded digital services, but it has also accentuated disparities in access. Bridging the digital divide and ensuring digital inclusion requires more than just internet connectivity—it demands a comprehensive approach to quality access. Enter the ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation,’ a global initiative aimed at leaving no one behind in the digital era.
Table of Contents
The Digital Divide Dilemma
The conventional measure of internet access, online vs. offline, falls short of capturing the full picture of digital inclusion. While nearly 70% of the world’s population is considered online, the quality of access remains a significant challenge. In a post-COVID-19 world, essential activities like accessing healthcare, education, job opportunities, and participating in the digital economy demand more than basic internet connectivity. Billions still lack the quality of access necessary for meaningful digital engagement.
The Birth of ‘e-Quality’
e-Quality emerges as the linchpin in the quest for digital inclusion—a holistic approach that seeks to create equitable access to digital services. The ‘e-Quality Centre for Zero Digital Divide’ emerges as a beacon of hope, dedicated to eliminating the digital divide and fostering digital inclusion worldwide. With a focus on technology transfer, innovation funding, and research, this initiative promises to redefine the digital landscape.
Major Focus Areas
In its unwavering commitment to foster digital inclusion and bridge the persistent digital divide, the ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’ has meticulously crafted major focus areas. These areas are designed to delve deep into the complexities of digital exclusion, drive technology transfer, and channel resources to propel global digital inclusivity.
South-South Technology Transfer
The centre capitalizes on Bangladesh’s remarkable progress in inclusive digital transformation. By transferring proven digital solutions to underserved communities in developing nations, it aims to pave the way for a global wave of inclusivity.
Understanding the Digital Divide: A Research-Driven Approach
Researching Root Causes of Exclusion
The e-Quality Centre initiates its mission by embarking on comprehensive research endeavors. These investigations aim to uncover the nuanced root causes of digital exclusion in specific contexts. The Centre recognizes that the digital divide is not a one-size-fits-all challenge; it varies across regions, influenced by factors such as socio-economic conditions, infrastructure, and cultural dynamics.
class=”wp-block-heading”>Strategies for Inclusive Digital Transformation
Armed with insights gleaned from its research initiatives, the Centre formulates targeted strategies for addressing the root causes of digital exclusion. These strategies are thoughtfully tailored to each context, ensuring that they resonate with the unique challenges faced by different communities. By targeting the fundamental issues that perpetuate exclusion, the Centre lays the groundwork for sustainable and holistic solutions.
The Global e-Quality Index: Tracking Progress
As a vital benchmark for measuring advancement in digital inclusivity, the e-Quality Centre introduces the ‘Global e-Quality Index.’ This index serves as a comprehensive tool for quantifying and monitoring progress in closing the digital divide. It empowers stakeholders to assess the effectiveness of interventions, policies, and initiatives aimed at achieving digital inclusivity.
Crafting Solutions: The Role of Innovation and Technology Transfer
The Inclusion Lab: A Hub for Innovation
At the core of the e-Quality Centre’s mission stands the ‘Inclusion Lab.’ This dynamic hub for innovation serves as a nexus for transferring cutting-edge technologies and digital public infrastructure (DPI) solutions. By fostering an environment of creativity and collaboration, the Inclusion Lab aspires to reduce digital exclusion in regions such as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and other developing nations.
Leveraging Technology Transfer
The Centre harnesses the transformative power of technology transfer to drive inclusivity. It actively promotes the transfer of innovations and DPI solutions to underserved communities. Through this approach, advanced technologies become accessible to those who need them most. By democratizing access to digital resources, the Centre seeks to bridge the digital divide and unlock new opportunities for social and economic development.
Funding the Future: The International ICT Innovation (i3) Facility
Triangular Partnerships for Progress
The ‘International ICT Innovation (i3) Facility,’ conceived by Bangladesh, plays a pivotal role in supporting the e-Quality Centre’s mission. Operating on the principles of triangular partnerships, this innovative funding mechanism facilitates collaboration between nations to advance digital inclusion. Through the i3 Facility, the Centre aims to mobilize resources and investments to fuel digital transformation in regions that require it most.
In summation, the ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’ embarks on a comprehensive journey to tackle the digital divide. Through research-driven insights, innovation, technology transfer, and innovative funding mechanisms, the Centre aims to pave the way for a more equitable digital future. Its ultimate goal is to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital era, unlocking the full potential of digitalization for all.
A Global Initiative Takes Flight
The ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’ is set to launch at the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly, symbolizing a significant step towards its vision of a digitally inclusive world. Esteemed dignitaries at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development have already lauded Bangladesh’s frugal, citizen-centric journey of digital transformation and the innovative policy approaches embodied by this initiative.
class=”wp-block-heading”>Launching at the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen Unveils e-Quality Centre
In a significant stride towards global digital inclusivity, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen officially launched the ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’ during a side event at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The event, titled ‘Envisioning a world with Zero Digital Divide through e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation,’ was jointly organized by the Bangladesh foreign ministry and the a2i project of the ICT Division in New York on September 26, 2023.
The inaugural ceremony of the ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’ at the 78th United Nations General Assembly was graced by the presence of esteemed dignitaries, including:
- Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen
- State Minister for ICT, Zunaid Ahmed Palak
- Ministers and high officials from Gambia, Uganda, Ghana, Somalia, São Tomé and Príncipe
- Representatives from the United Nations Secretariat
- Director General (ITIT/ICT) of Foreign Ministry Dr. Syed Muntasir Mamun and other officers from the ITIT/ICT Wing
- Senior officials from the Bangladesh Permanent Mission to the United Nations
- Representatives from the a2i project of the ICT Division
These notable attendees collectively celebrated the launch of the e-Quality Centre, emphasizing its pivotal role in addressing the digital divide and fostering digital inclusion on a global scale.
Aim to Eradicate the Digital Divide
The primary objective of the e-Quality Centre is to bridge the digital divide, particularly in Global South countries, by harnessing the potential of South-South Cooperation. Bangladesh’s flagship initiative seeks to utilize cutting-edge technology, research, and innovation to narrow the digital gap. It envisions a future where everyone has equal access to digital opportunities.
Bangladesh’s Digital Journey
Foreign Minister Momen highlighted Bangladesh’s remarkable journey towards digital empowerment and inclusive growth, transitioning from ‘Digital Bangladesh’ to ‘Smart Bangladesh.’ He stressed the importance of technology transfer, cooperation among developing nations, and the need to eliminate the digital divide.
Global Collaboration and Innovation
The e-Quality Centre represents Bangladesh’s commitment to a world where technology serves as an equalizer and progress is a collective endeavor. It aims to foster international collaborations, integrate technology and innovation seamlessly, and champion cutting-edge technologies to create a digitally inclusive society.
Positive Reception and Hope for the Future
Ministers, high officials, and representatives from various UN organizations expressed their support for the e-Quality Centre. They underscored the importance of inclusive technology distribution, collaboration between developed and developing nations, and the challenges posed by the evolving digital landscape. The Centre’s potential to make a significant impact was a recurring theme.
Recognition of ICT Innovation
As part of the event, winning projects of the International ICT Innovation (i3) Facility received awards from the foreign minister, acknowledging their contribution to digital innovation.
A Step Towards Digital Inclusion
The launch of the e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation at the UNGA 78 marks a significant step towards achieving global digital inclusivity. With a focus on cooperation, innovation, and technology transfer, the Centre has the potential to change the digital landscape, ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital era.
Navigating the Digital Transformation Landscape
In an era defined by rapid digital transformation, the importance of equitable access to digital development cannot be overstated. While digitalization has brought about significant progress, the persistence of the digital divide remains a stark reality. However, this challenge is far from insurmountable, and the ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’ stands as a testament to the potential for positive change.
Bridging the Divide Through Innovation
The ‘e-Quality Centre’ represents a beacon of hope in our quest to bridge the digital divide. It signifies the collective commitment to leveraging digitalization as a force for inclusivity, empowering marginalized communities, and fostering a more equitable digital landscape. As digital technologies continue to reshape our world, the imperative of ensuring equitable access to digital development becomes ever more pressing.
Analyzing the Linkage: e-Quality and Equality
Collaborating with esteemed experts such as Dr. Selim Jahan, former Director of the Human Development Report Office of UNDP in New York, the ‘Equality through e-Quality’ report emerges as a pivotal instrument for driving analytical insights and policy debates. It meticulously examines the intricate connection between e-Quality, representing equitable digital access, and overall societal equality. This critical linkage underscores the report’s mission to chart a course towards a more inclusive and digitally equitable world.
class=”wp-block-heading”>A Global Commitment
The ‘Equality through e-Quality’ report transcends borders. It is not merely a report for Bangladesh but a global beacon of hope for digital inclusivity. It symbolizes the unwavering commitment of nations to navigate the digital age with inclusivity, accessibility, and equality at the forefront. In an increasingly interconnected world, it is a collective pledge to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital era.
In summary, as we embrace the digital transformation landscape, initiatives like the ‘e-Quality Centre’ and analytical reports like ‘Equality through e-Quality’ offer a blueprint for a more inclusive, accessible, and equitable digital future—one where every individual and community can harness the power of technology to enhance their lives and opportunities.
In conclusion, the ‘e-Quality Centre for Inclusive Innovation’ emerges as a beacon of hope in the quest for a digitally equitable world. By delving into the root causes of digital exclusion, fostering innovation and technology transfer, and championing innovative funding mechanisms, the Centre lays the groundwork for a future where no one is left behind in the digital era. With a commitment to bridging the digital divide, it aspires to unlock the transformative power of digitalization, ensuring that every individual and community can access the opportunities of the digital age.