Towards a Global Economy Based on Digital Technology
Technology, particularly digital technology, has been largely successful in playing the role of a great enabler. It has transformed all aspects of life including health, economy, education, environment and others in ways more than one.
Acknowledging this fact, a recent meeting of the G20 digital economy ministers was held, presided over by Saudi Arabia. It aimed at discussing ways in which digital technologies can mitigate the effects of the crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also deliberated on ways of making businesses resilient to future crises with the help of digital technologies.
During the meeting, a wide range of issues were discussed including the important role of digital technology in achieving United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), smart cities, artificial intelligence, data flows, security in the digital economy, measurement of the digital economy, and global connectivity among others.
Effective investment in emerging opportunities which aim at improving the living standards and encourage more inclusive societies was also a prominent part of the deliberations. Saudi Arabia’s minister of communications and information technology, Abdullah Al-Swaha, said that digitalization had been at the heart of every transformational journey for creating wealth, prosperity, and competitiveness.
The minister also said that this year, the G20 Digital Economy Task Force (DETF) brought together representatives of all G20 members as well as a number of guest countries and that next year, this group is going to be upgraded to the status of working group, which will elevate global discussions of the digital economy to a whole new level.
The world has been struggling with one of the worst health and economic crises in centuries. Owing to the pandemic, about 400 million jobs have been lost and 700 million people have slipped below the poverty line across the globe. In this context, the G20’s digital leaders acknowledged the onerous responsibility on their shoulders when it comes to helping the world spring back up from the crisis with digital transformation.
Saudi Arabia is collaborating with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as knowledge partners, as part of their efforts at furthering the G20 declaration based on connecting humanity. The goal of achieving a digital economy is perfectly aligned to the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030 as well as to the work of G20.
Achieving global connectivity and working towards a digital technology-driven economy requires improved access to the internet. It can also help markets worldwide recover from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A glaring digital divide has resulted in digital inequity that has wide repercussions across areas such as infrastructure, energy, communication, water and sanitation, health, and education to name a few.
The need of the hour, therefore, is to march ahead on a path of concerted action that would help bridge the huge digital divide and usher in an era of a connected globe, connected humanity, and of course, a world of digital equity.