GENEVA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The least-developed countries (LDCs) of the world are making strong progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goal of increasing access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said in a report Wednesday.
According to the ITU report on achieving universal and affordable Internet in the LDCs, all 47 LDCs have launched 3G services and over 60 percent of their populations are covered by a 3G network.
These countries are also on track to reach on average 97 percent mobile broadband coverage and to make Internet prices relatively affordable by 2020, said the ITU.
"Information and communication technologies are transforming lives everywhere and offering vast opportunities for advances in sustainable development," said ITU Secretary-General Zhao Houlin.
The report was prepared jointly with the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).
By the end of 2017, the number of mobile-cellular subscriptions in LDCs had increased to about 700 million. More than 80 percent of the population in LDCs live within range of a mobile cellular network, said the report.
The report also indicates that ICTs have led to significant development outcomes in LDCs, in the areas of financial inclusion, poverty reduction and improved health.
"This report indicates that Least Developed Countries are now importantly recognizing that, with strong government commitment and enabling policy and regulatory frameworks, universal and affordable Internet access for all can be realized," Zhao said.
Key recommendations include: addressing market concentration and fostering competition in all building blocks of Internet connectivity as well as building ICT skills by raising educational levels and developing strategic ICT sector plans that link to educational policies.