Digital revolution falling short in developing world – WB
MANILA, Philippines – While the Internet, mobile phones, and other digital technologies are spreading rapidly throughout the developing world, their anticipated benefits have been disappointing so far, said a new World Bank report.
In addition to this, 60% of the world's population remains excluded from the ever-expanding digital economy, according to the study "World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends," released Thursday, January 14.
Put another way, while the number of Internet users worldwide has more than tripled since 2005, 4 billion people still lack Internet access.
The report also found that 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.
“We must continue to connect everyone and leave no one behind because the cost of lost opportunities is enormous. But for digital dividends to be widely shared among all parts of society, countries also need to improve their business climate, invest in people's education and health, and promote good governance," said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.
Although there are many individual success stories, the effect of technology on global productivity, expansion of opportunity for the poor and middle class, and the spread of good governance has lagged behind.
"The digital revolution is transforming the world, aiding information flows, and facilitating the rise of developing nations that are able to take advantage of these new opportunities," said Kaushik Basu, World Bank Chief Economist.
"It is an amazing transformation that today 40% of the world's population is connected by the Internet.”
At the same time, Basu warned that the world needs to be careful that the revolution doesn’t create a new underclass.
“With nearly 20% of the world's population unable to read and write, the spread of digital technologies alone is unlikely to spell the end of the global knowledge divide," he said. – Rappler.com
Digital globe image via Shutterstock