Improving connectivity in rural areas is vital to ensure all Europeans benefit from a level playing field when it comes to jobs, market access, education and work-life balance, a conference in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, heard, writes Abraham Liu (pictured, below) at the Connectivity & Social Progress conference in Sofia, Bulgaria.
“The recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic should not leave anyone behind,” said Liu, Huawei’s chief representative to the EU Institutions and vice president of the European Region, participating in a panel alongside high-level EU representatives.
“Connecting Europe’s rural areas, and especially those suffering from depopulation, is now a more pressing need than ever. Huawei wants to help Europe overcome the rural-urban digital gap, so that the post-Covid reality can be a truly inclusive one,” Liu said.
The conference, ‘Connectivity & Social Progress: Digital Resilience for Remote Areas’, was organized by the media platform Euractiv, with the support of Huawei. Participants discussed how Internet connectivity can help remote areas address depopulation and boost growth and employment in countries such as Bulgaria and Romania.
“We will do our utmost to bring connectivity to each and every village. We need to join forces with partners, including private companies and national and regional governments, to make this happen,” European Commission Vice President for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica said.
“If we learned one lesson from the pandemic, it’s that we should massively invest in digitalization, especially in the public sector (…) and with regard to education,” said Bulgaria’s Minister of Labour and Social Policy Denitsa Sacheva.
“Innovation becomes truly useful and has a significant impact on people’s lives when it manages to address social aspects: think about innovations in teaching and online learning. (…) In this sense, the pandemic has shown us that technology is vital for our societies,” said Corina Crețu MEP, and former European commissioner for regional development.
“Bringing connectivity and online public services to rural areas should be a key indicator when the Commission evaluates national recovery plans, ” said the the European Parliament’s Regional Development Committee Vice Chairman Cristian Ghinea MEP.
“In 2020, ‘digital gap’ means ‘opportunity gap’. Every day Europe’s regions spend without 5G is a day of missed opportunities. This is particularly important for regions affected by depopulation and other demographic and economic challenges. Huawei is determined to help Europe overcome the rural-urban gap and fully embrace the digital era in a way that is affordable, sustainable and inclusive – as it has been doing for the last 20 years,” said Abraham Liu.