Web Summit 2020 marks beginning of post-pandemic digital world in Portugal

LISBON, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Web Summit 2020, which is deemed as the biggest event of "digital transformation" in the Western Hemisphere, started on Wednesday in Portugal, and will take place in online format until Friday with "an estimated audience of 100,000 people" connected.

European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira, a Portuguese, said in her opening speech that digitization and connectivity can "redefine geography in Europe."

"In Europe, digitization and connectivity can redefine dependence on geography. They give us the opportunity to make geography less relevant in determining the success of the regions and people," she said.

"COVID-19 made this reality even more evident than ever, despite (it) being on the European agenda before the crisis," said the Commissioner when projecting that the role of digitalization is one of the "priorities of the future Portuguese presidency of the European Union (EU)."

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa stated in his opening speech that the Web Summit should be "the starting point for building a better future in the post-pandemic (world)."

Henrietta Fore, executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), said it is necessary to connect all schools in the world to the internet in the next two years.

"That's why we joined (the movement) 'Generation Unlimited' and the International Telecommunications Union to create 'Giga'", a project that aims to connect all schools to the internet and all young people to information, she said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in her speech that "Europe has all the potential to be a global leader in the next wave of digital transformation."

Von der Leyen stressed that the European Union's Economic Recovery Fund will allocate a significant part of the budget to the project called "Next Generation EU", which is aimed at investments in Europe's physical and virtual infrastructure.

She also highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated innovation and digitalization, helping many companies "survive confinement".

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