Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 4th May 2021 - Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) President, Dr. Bandar Hajjar, has addressed the high-level session of Central Asia Regional Economic (CAREC) Program on ‘Reimaging Regional Cooperation Through Digital Transformation’ organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
During his remarks, Dr. Hajjar underlined that CAREC countries need to bridge the digital divide which in turn requires investments and knowledge services to improve accessibility and efficiency in public services, upgrade productivity, enable smoother people-to-people contacts, and support integration in regional and global value chains.
“These issues call for an urgent need to widen access to digital tools by ensuring reliable internet services across entire CAREC populations,” he underlined adding: “We have already taken action to contribute to this in the CAREC region as IsDB approved, in 2017, a US$ 273 million project for Turkmenistan to upgrade the country's ICT infrastructure to be a catalyst for the next milestone projects in the region.”
Dr. Hajjar stated this in response to a question raised on identifying opportunities for and barriers to CAREC Member Countries’ regional cooperation initiatives.
He further elaborated: “As we continue extending our support to Central Asia, we are glad to know that the CAREC program already provides a coherent framework to synergize our efforts, including digital transformation.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, the IsDB president referred to integrating the use of digitalization across the spectrum of CAREC operations as a cross-cutting priority for improvement of public services quality, supporting private sector growth, and enhancing resilience.
“Digital technologies have been instrumental in monitoring and understanding the spread of the diseases and improving healthcare coordination among public health institutions,” he added while inferring to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how digital technologies have played a crucial role in maintaining the resilience of economies and societies.
“Digital communications platforms have helped maintain business continuity, keep students in education, and provide access to certain health services through telehealth,” Dr. Hajjar reiterated while stressing the need to re-align development priorities with realities of the post-COVID world and an evolving crisis.
More than 30 high level participants attended the event including those from Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan, as well as senior representatives from the AIIB, and ADB.