Meeting the 2025 Targets
In 2011, following the creation of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development (renamed ‘Sustainable Development’ in 2015 following the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals), the Commission adopted four initial connectivity goals. These were expanded to five in 2013, with the addition of a gender equality goal. In January 2018, at its Special Session at the Annual General Meeting of the World Economic Forum, the Broadband Commission extended and updated its existing five broadband targets to a total of seven targets.1 This report considers progress towards all seven targets.
2.1 Advocacy Target 1 Making broadband policy universal: By 2025, all countries should have a funded National Broadband Plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access and Service (UAS) Definition.
Since the 2011, the Commission has been tracking the number of countries with a National Broadband Plan or strategy as the first of its four main targets. This target was revised, building on the Commission’s previous target for national broadband plans, with an increased emphasis on implementation capacity through the specification that plans/ strategies are funded.
2.2 Advocacy Target 2 Making broadband affordable: By 2025, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries at less than 2% of monthly gross national income (GNI) per capita
This target is now lower than the Commission’s previous affordability threshold target, which was lowered from less than 5% to less than 2% of monthly gross national income per capita – enabling broadband services (fixed or mobile) to be affordable to a much greater number of people. While affordability has improved significantly since the Commission set its initial target in 2011, costs remain high in many countries. This new target will particularly assist lower income groups in developing and Least Developed Countries to gain connectivity.
2.3 Advocacy Target 3 Getting people online: By 2025, Broadband-Internet user penetration should reach: a) 75% worldwide b) 65% in developing countries c) 35% in Least Developed Countries
Despite the potential risks for users participating online, the benefits and opportunities provided by the internet have never been so clearly measurable. At a macroeconomic level, economic impact literature continues to demonstrate the significant impact of broadband connectivity. A landmark analysis conducted by ITU reviewed the impact of broadband, digital transformation and the interplay on ICT regulation on national economies. The analysis demonstrates, based on econometric modelling and quantitative analysis of large quantities of small data, that in the aggregate mobile broadband appears to have a higher economic impact than fixed broadband, and that the impact is greater in less developed countries than in more developed countries. As the model shows, globally an increase of 10 per cent in fixed broadband penetration yields an increase of 0.8 per cent in GDP, and an increase of 10 per cent in mobile broadband penetration yields an increase of 1.5 per cent in GDP. However, in more developed countries, the economic impact of fixed broadband is greater than in less developed countries (see Figure 11). A follow-up study focusing on the Africa region suggests a 10 per cent increase in mobile broadband penetration in Africa would yield an increase of 2.5 per cent of GDP per capita.
2.4 Advocacy Target 4 Digital skills and literacy: By 2025, 60% of youth and adults should have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills
The remaining gaps in connectivity adoption are driven by divides across several types: geographies (urban vs rural), income levels (high vs low income groups), age and gender, among others. These divides highlight the characteristics of current offline populations that require targeted actions designed to increase adoption and participation online.
2.5 Advocacy Target 5 Digital financial services: By 2025, 40% of the world’s population should be using digital financial service244
The overall challenges that remain include ensuring the global community tackles the issues that are threatening current internet use, as well as identifying what strategies will need to be adjusted to drive the next 49% of global adoption. As noted above, various digital divides remain, and concerted and context-specific actions will be required to address each one. In many cases, these are “second level digital divides”: gaps that persist, and/or may increase, even after coverage and access issues are addressed, as they are driven more by differences in embedded structures such as limitations in skills, literacy, user empowerment and availability of relevant content.92 At the same time, the growing number of risks, real and perceived, need to be addressed with technology, policies and concrete actions to ensure that individuals who are currently online are not forced to curb their participation in the digital economy.
2. 6 Advocacy Target 6 Getting businesses online: By 2025, improve connectedness of Micro-, Small- and Medium- sized Enterprises (MSMEs) by 50%, by sector
This target is particularly ambitious for MSMEs in those sectors that remain largely unconnected and incentivizes well-connected sectors to close the final gap. As an example, a sector in which MSMEs are 80% unconnected will have only 40% unconnected by 2025, and a sector in which MSMEs are 30% unconnected will have only 15% unconnected by 2025.
2.7 Advocacy Target 7 Achieving gender equality in access to broadband by 2025: By 2025, gender equality should be achieved across all targets.
In all areas of broadband accessibility and use, women and girls are left behind. Gender equality must be realized in order to achieve all the 2025 Targets – including internet users, digital skills, digital financial services and MSMEs – and bring broadband and internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere.
A Note on Data Collection Challenges
Accurate and up-to-date data collection remains a challenge for some for the advocacy targets, as noted in the sections above. Much of the data series used for these targets comes from national statistical agencies, and the process of collecting data at these levels of granularity remains labour intensive and incurs cost burdens. Some of the data available for measuring progress against the targets are more robust for developed countries, and remain a challenge for some developing countries. There may be other methodologies to collect similar, or proxy, datasets, and/or reporting could be done on a semi-annual basis rather than annual. Further discussion on these challenges, possibilities and trade- offs is required. The ITU will be releasing its annual update of ICT data in October 2019, and the relevant data points mentioned in this report will be updated via an addendum to this report.