Inequality in access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) in East and North-East Asia and South-East Asia

This report examines inequalities in the access to and use of ICTs in ESCAP member States of East and North-East Asia as well as South-East Asia. It uses the classification and regression tree analysis to explore the ICT gaps between population groups and determine the characteristics and circumstances of individuals most likely to be left behind. The report begins by setting the context of ICTs as an enabler for achieving the SDGs, and highlights trends in ICT access and use the countries covered. The next section examines why inequality in ICTs matters, particularly in four closely interrelated areas – poverty, gender, education and work – and in this new reality brought about by COVID-19. This is followed by a summary of findings from the classification and regression tree analysis that identifies key characteristics of the population groups that are left behind due to their lack of access to and use of ICTs. The fourth section considers future ICTrelated challenges that may increase inequalities, and presents some lessons learned and good practices to address these challenges. The report concludes with policy recommendations on ways to leverage ICTs to reduce inequalities and ensure they become essential tools for inclusive sustainable development, rather than forces that widen inequality gaps.