2018 Broadband Commission Session at the UNCTAD eCommerce Week


April 16, 2018


Geneva, Switzerland

Relevant Resources

Enabling Digital Entrepreneurship Through Better Connectivity & Skills

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development launched in May 2010 by ITU and UNESCO, throughout its 8 years of activities it became a leading example of a multi-stakeholder partnership, comprising top industry leaders, governments, international agencies and development organizations.

In 2011 the Commission adopted its first Global Broadband Advocacy Targets and revised the framework in January 2018 at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos. The new Global Advocacy Targets for 2025 cover broadband policy, Internet affordability, access to Internet, digital skills, access to digital financial services, business connectivity and gender equality. The new set of targets is oriented towards application in practice. The emphasis is shifting from the supply to the demand side. In the world which is becoming universally connected, with an estimated 95% of the global population living in an area covered by at least a basic 2G mobile-cellular network, people need digital skills to access, use and benefit from broadband and Internet resources. Digital skills are becoming increasingly critically important to accessing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. On the other hand, given that only around half of the world’s population is online, the 2025 Targets still seek to expand broadband infrastructure, and Internet access and use to spur the ICT services, applications and products.

In this context, the session will discuss the need of connectivity and new digital skills to enable businesses and entrepreneurs to realize the opportunities of the digital economy. Digitalization offers companies and entrepreneurs benefits from improving their productivity, innovating and leapfrogging with technology and business models. However the spectrum of challenges is spanning, for example: ICTs infrastructure; affordability; content and skills. What are the barriers for digital entrepreneurship? How to make sure that enablers are put place? What best practices and lessons learned are already in the market?

This year’s E-Commerce Week 2018 which took place in Geneva on April 16 to 20 explored the role of digital technologies for sustainable development. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) hosted a panel​ on connectivity and digital skills and its importance for entrepreneurs. In order to help developing countries bridge the digital gap,  governments should put in place enablers such as access to low-interest credit, to cheap infrastructure or establishing enforceable contracts the provide legal predictability. In addition, countries have to prepare for the next 5G digital revolution by making extensive network investments. The digital market is also facing a problem of shortage of digitally skilled labour. All these challenges cannot go unnoticed if all countries are to benefit from the immense opportunities offered by digital technologies.


  • Ms Patricia Benoit-Guyot, Chief of Protocol & Broadband Commission Coordinator, International Telecommunication Union (ITU)


  • Mr Sohaib Arshad, Head of Corporate Responsibility, VEON
  • Ms Belinda Exelby, Head of International Relations, GSMA
  • Mr Alex Wong, Head, Global Challenge Partnerships & Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum (WEF)
  • Mr Daniel Spoiala, Policy Officer, Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission
  • Ms Susan Schorr, Head, Digital Inclusion Division (DID), Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • Mr Martin Labbé, Senior Officer, Trade Institutional Development, International Trade Centre (ITC)
Session Organizers :
  • Anna Polomska
  • Dominika Ornatowska
  • Pierre Antoine
  • Alia El Ashram