This book has many takeaways. My favourite ones are as follows:
The publication captures the essence of the undeniable linkages between ICTs and the SDGs. It is both comprehensive and contemporary covering various aspects such as the digital divide, innovation and latest technologies and their connection with sustainable development
In particular, I support and underline the contention in Chapter 2 that highlights that more emphasis needs to be placed on addressing inequalities in access and usage of ICTs between people and regions which if left unaddressed will exacerbate all other inequalities in development, growth and quality of life over time adversely affecting the progress in realizing the SDGs. The stress on ICT related Targets in SDGs (table 1.) is very important. The measures contained in sub goal 9c must include all disadvantaged persons including Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).
In this context, while governments have a very important role to play, the way forward is a multi-stakeholder model wherein private sector, academia and civil society are actively engaged and involved by governments. I wholeheartedly endorse the importance of good regulation that encourages and facilitates private sector innovation and government support (through inter alia innovative use of Universal Service Funds) to empower the poor, women and PwDs etc. such that they are provided the benefits of ICTs.
The multi-stakeholder partnership model described in Appendix A to Chapter 2 is very relevant and tried and tested in India in its Sanchar Shakti
project for access to Mobile Value-Added Services for rural women.
Chapter 4 with its emphasis on a conducive institutional and regulatory framework is highly relevant especially for policy makers and regulators in developing countries. Competition, liberalisation and innovation go hand in hand with sustainable growth. In particular, the trade-off between short term gains and long-term harm caused by policy decisions impacts all sectors including ICTs and has a very important bearing on achieving sustainable development.
I also appreciate the stress on the capacity of ICTs to empower citizens by providing information and a feedback mechanism to express their views and preferences. The sections on competition, consumer regulation and State owned Enterprises (SoEs) are very well written and pertinent. Competition, credible governance, universal service regulation, privacy and data protection can have a critical impact on, long term growth of ICTs and hence overall socio-economic development given the intricate linkages between ICTs and the SDGs. This is an important precondition for overall balanced growth in international context.
Chapter 5 speaks about new data driven business models based on sharing and personalisation in the context of increasing growth of IoT, multi-sided platforms and the App economy, highlight the need for focus on important issues such as privacy and data protection and cyber security which are critical to consumer protection, trust and hence uptake of ICTs and their continued contribution to sustainable development.