Business and science leaders from the G20 member states have written to the G20 calling on the organisation to urgently improve digital infrastructure in response to the coronavirus pandemic, highlighting that 5G is key to future economic recovery.

The B20 and the S20, the voices of the private sector and science community to the G20 respectively, have outlined an extensive list of actions around digitisation that the G20 needs to take in a joint statement.

The statement has been issued ahead of a key virtual G20 meeting on the role of technology in combatting the coronavirus, which will be held today.

The statement sets out a course of action that the B20 and S20 believes the G20 should follow on digitisation, arguing that the coronavirus warrants “a swift and coordinated response on a number of important policy issues across the entire spectrum of the digital domain”.

“As the world tries to find effective solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic, governments and businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on digital technologies to support their communities and citizens,” the joint statement says.

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“Digital systems have become a lifeline for all businesses as well as health services, and serve as an essential building block within a larger framework of measures to contain the spread of the virus.”

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Among the list of actions the statement outlines for the G20 are four actions that the B20 and S20 describe as “urgent short-term priorities”.

The first of these is to strengthen digital infrastructure, which the groups highlight as particularly key given the shift to remote working amid the coronavirus and beyond, and in which 5G features heavily.

The B20 and S20 in particular highlight the need to address “inter-country and intra-country roadblocks” to technologies, citing 5G as the prime infrastructure example.

This is likely in reference to how 5G has become embroiled in the US-China trade war due to Chinese technology giant Huawei’s prominence in the market.

Concerns around the security of Huawei-made 5G infrastructure – led by political pressure from the US – have caused the rollout to be delayed in some areas, while rival Ericsson has taken up the slack in others. Huawei, meanwhile, rejects all spying allegations related to its products.

However, the group in particular highlights how any political concerns relating to 5G will be vital to overcome given the importance of strong technologies to economic recovery following the coronavirus.

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“Looking ahead, digital infrastructure and specifically 5G can also play a key role in the economic recovery and fundamentally change our ways of working and living our lives,” the statement says.

“We need high quality infrastructure that can support a multitude of innovative applications that support remote working, remote process controls as well as reliable detection of health.”


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