Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal on Sunday stressed the need to bridge the global digital divide and create opportunities for young people to prevent social unrest.
Addressing the Business 20 forum on the sidelines of the G20 summit in this Turkish city, Mittal also spoke about the need to provide easy and affordable access to information communication technologies to millions across the world.
“The global economy is facing considerable headwinds and the unemployment rate amongst youth across the world is at a high of 13%. We must create meaningful opportunities for the young people to avoid social unrest,” he said.
The internet, he said, can become the “cornerstone of more inclusive global economic growth”. He also outlined the need to bring more women and youngsters into mainstream economic growth to ensure balanced development within economies.
“If we want to help people feed, heal, educate and employ themselves, we need to ensure they can connect to the internet. The challenge of connecting the world will require us to take many different and complementary actions in the coming years,” said Mittal, the vice chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce.
He highlighted the importance of investing in digital infrastructure for a better future. He also noted the importance of skilling and better education infrastructure developed through public-private partnerships to ensure a talent pool for SMEs.
Mittal, who spoke in the session that followed the inaugural address by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, covered a gamut of issues, including the four-point agenda outlined by the International Chamber of Commerce for B20 and the revival of the global business environment.
The four points are early ratification and implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, concrete actions to create more opportunities for women and young people in the labour market, establishing country-specific infrastructure strategies and improving SME access to finance.
Mittal laid emphasis on supporting the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which generate 60% of the world’s private sector employment. “Globally, 95% of enterprises are SMEs and these should be at the core of the global growth strategy outlined by G20 nations. The SMEs can become a major source of employment opportunities for youth and support a more inclusive economic growth,” he said.
The size of the problem of infrastructure requires urgent action since the worldwide spending gap on this sector is forecast to reach $15 trillion to $20 trillion by 2030. Filling this gap will require unprecedented amounts of private capital and the business council members are calling on G20 governments to set out credible plans to attract investors.
The Business 20 (B20) is a forum through which the private sector provides policy recommendations for the annual meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) leaders.
Mittal is leading an ICC delegation comprising business leaders from across the G20, including SEB chairman Marcus Wallenberg, National Petrochemical Industrial Company chairman Khalid Alireza, Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs president Alexander Shokhin, Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh and Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke.