A new World Bank report says that while the internet, mobile phones and other digital technologies are spreading rapidly throughout the developing world, the anticipated digital dividends of higher growth, more jobs, and better public services have fallen short of expectations, and 60% of the world’s population remains excluded from the ever-expanding digital economy.
According to the new ‘World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends,’ authored by Co-Directors, Deepak Mishra and Uwe Deichmann and team, the benefits of rapid digital expansion have been skewed towards the wealthy, skilled, and influential around the world, who are better positioned to take advantage of the new technologies. In addition, though the number of internet users worldwide has more than tripled since 2005, four billion people still lack access to the internet.
The report explores the impact of the internet, mobile phones, and related technologies on economic development. Part 1 shows that potential gains from digital technologies are high, but often remain unrealized. Part 2 proposes policies to expand connectivity, accelerate complementary reforms in sectors beyond information and communication technology (ICT), and address global coordination problems.
Among the key findings:
- Digital technologies promote development and
generate digital dividends.
- By reducing information costs, digital technologies greatly
lower the cost of economic and social transactions for
firms, individuals, and the public sector.
- Connectivity is vital, but not enough to realize the full development benefits as regulations, skills, and institutions also play essential roles.
- Connectivity for all remains an important goal and a tremendous challenge. But countries also need to create favorable conditions for technology to be effective.
- Market competition, public-private partnerships, and effective regulation of internet and mobile operators encourage private investment that can make access universal and affordable.
- Digital development strategies need to be broader than information and communication technology strategies.
See The New York Times analysis: Internet Yields Uneven Dividends and May Widen Inequality, Report Says