The whole world is going online; however, as the World Bank reminded in its Digital Dividends Report a few months ago, not everybody and not everywhere is up to the challenges. There are many people in the world who are losing out on these new opportunities simply because they do not have access to digital technologies.
Around 4 billion people or 60% of the world’s population, still lack access to the internet. With more than half the world being offline, the global connectivity is clearly a long way to go…
In Japan, the G-7 ministers agreed on April 2016 a plan for 1.5 billion more people to have internet access by 2020. It is a good start towards getting rid of digital divides and exclusion around the world.
Presently, through internet multibillion-dollar companies are created in “no time” and become household names within one to three years.
In 2016, the global internet traffic is due to exceed one zeta-byte for the first time; this vast amount of data helps countries to tackle epidemics, congestion and pollution. Access to broadband presently can have a greater effect on nations’ GDP than access to ports and railways.
Digital effect on societies and economies
The above-mentioned long-term shifts in digital/ICT trends affect all parts of modern societies and economies. Explosive growth in the sharing- and app-economies, in the global rise of online platforms and e-commerce are just a few examples. The potential of the digital economy to create economic growth, employment and innovation are definitely huge… Digital should be at the core of political priorities at all levels of government: international, national, regional and local.
However, this is more than simply having an internet connection: it is about making people know how to use ICT technology, and learn from it. For full social and economic inclusion, having adequate digital skills is as important as being able to access technology.
It is important for the governments to see that digital skills are strongly recognised as basic skills, along with literacy and numeracy.See, e.g. “EU Digital agenda requires additional training and new skills”, in Baltic-course.com
Digital global solutions
Since digital technology and the internet do not recognise borders, some issues need global solutions. National or regional interests should not get in the way of overarching objectives: simplifying rules or creating predictable and stable market conditions for businesses, investors and consumers. Open international cooperation and discussions are vital in areas such as net neutrality, the open internet, data protection, privacy and cybersecurity, as well as internet governance. These issues affect everyday’s life in the whole of the world's digital community.
OECD meeting on digital agenda is important to reveal broader policy objectives in the context of digitalization.See, e.g. “Digital world: mobile technologies dominate communications”.
Digital economy is global and borderless by its nature; at the G-7 ICT meeting in Japan the Charter for the Digitally Connected World has been adopted.
A particularly relevant is the following extract from the Charter:
"We expect worldwide proliferation of ICT infrastructure and services to enable seamless global connectivity among people and things anytime and anywhere that enhances our quality of life."
Thus, there are globally the same challenges: to guarantee the secure and free flow of data, develop technical standards, and ensure interoperability.
Global community is looking forward to cooperation in global digital economy which fulfils its enormous potential for enhancing fairness and social inclusion as well as to bring collective long-term prosperity.
Europe's response to these challenges is within building a Digital Single Market. The EU takes a coherent approach across different sectors, with all EU policies supporting digitalisation as a vehicle for innovation and sustainable growth.
However, there is major problem to tackle: the splintered nature of EU digital markets into 28 different national regimes. This goes against the concept of a digital and data-driven economy, where rapid growth and cross-border data flows are all-important.
The Commission intends to strengthen Europe's digital competitiveness, boost digital startups, small and medium-sized enterprises and European industry.
The task is to use digitalisation as an instrument to assist consumers to get more out of the digital agenda by improving their online access and choice of services.
The ultimate idea is to remove barriers to the Digital Single Market as a way to open up its opportunities for all people and businesses, both in Europe and internationally.See, e.g. “EU’s Digital Single Market is taking shape”, in Baltic-course.com
Source: Speech by European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip at the Ministerial Meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the Digital Economy, Cancún, 22 June 2016. In: