The Asian Development Bank is urging Southeast Asian countries to expand investments in digital infrastructure and ensure equitable access to technology as economies recover from the pandemic.
ADB President, Masatsugu Asakawa in ADB’s first Southeast Asia Development Symposium said, “ We must close the digital divide and expand existing investments in digital infrastructure by building more and higher quality mobile broadband infrastructure and ensuring affordable internet access and coverage.”
He added that these steps can also enhance access to basic social services such as health, education and access to financial services.
“These investments will better equip countries to address the worsening income inequality and disparities in opportunities brought by the pandemic,” he said.
He went on to address other policy areas that can support developing economies in SEA. These included facilitating a green and resilient recovery by promoting investments that drive economic activity toward low-carbon and resilient practices.
Asakawa has also highlighted the need to strengthen regional cooperation and integration by improving cross-border digital connectivity, e-customs systems, and electronic cargo tracking systems.
“Governments need to deepen institutional capacity for mobilising domestic resources to finance public services, while ensuring debt sustainability,” he added.
The symposium aims to provide government officials and other stakeholders with a wide range of cutting-edge perspectives on critical development issues.
The one-day virtual event attracted more than 1,700 high-level government officials, private sector representatives, and other stakeholders from 57 countries.