Share ICT for SIDS: Small posts at the forefront of digital transformation
The various technological breakthroughs of past years that have irreversibly altered the daily lives and operations of people and businesses around the world, have become a particular gamechanger for small, remote and developing communities. The opportunities that rapid Information and Communication Technology (ICT) innovations present to small yet agile and ambitious economies of small island developing states (SIDS) vary from improved competitiveness, boosted investment and economic diversification to the advanced quality of life, literacy and financial inclusion.
In this COVID-19 era, digital trade has become even more important, given its ability to sustain economic activity whilst preserving social distancing. Even as lockdowns ease and border closures are lifted, online buying and selling continues to increase and remains well-above pre-pandemic levels, thus signaling a permanent change in habits. It is therefore essential that governments in SIDS are well-equipped to face this new digital era to avoid the risk of falling behind.
The Post, as a long established and essential public service provider, is thus finding itself in a unique and challenging context. Historically mandated to reach the furthest through its universal service obligation, the new digital economy creates a challenging environment for postal services to adapt and support socio-economic development. The Posts of SIDS are well positioned to leverage and bring innovation to the doorsteps of local communities and businesses. Improving financial services, supporting the development of e-government, promoting economic empowerment of underserved groups, facilitating e-commerce and improving disaster resilience – this is a far incomplete list of critically important areas where Posts, powered by ICT, could successfully play a role to support growth.
However, small Posts face numerous constraints halting postal development including the lack of financial and human resource capacity, insufficient knowledge and skills, high cost, and the persistent digital divide. It is critical therefore to mobilize the international community across sectors in order to seize the opportunities presented by ICT and help Posts become drivers behind the creation of an inclusive digital economy locally and globally.
To promote dialogue and cooperation in this area, to raise the awareness and understanding of the needs of SIDS and their Posts, and to share best practices, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) will hold an online public discussion with representatives of Posts and regional and international organizations.
Key discussion questions:
- How can technology play a role in the economic development of SIDS?
- What are the main opportunities and challenges associated with digital transformation when it comes to the socioeconomic development of SIDS?
- What role can Posts in SIDS play to facilitate the creation of the digital society? What are some of the examples?
- What needs to be done on behalf of governments, international and regional organizations, and Posts themselves for the latter to become successful drivers of digital transformation?
- Rodney Taylor, Secretary General, Caribbean Telecommunications Union
- Paul Donohoe, Digital Policies and Trade Coordinator, UPU
Moderation: Ian Kerr, UPU Voice Mail podcast host
The event will be held in English with French interpretation.