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Reaping digital dividends in Europe and Central Asia

A new World Bank regional report, ‘Reaping digital dividends’  argues that digital dividends have the potential to be the driving force of poverty reduction and shared prosperity in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region. The report says that the main challenge that ECA countries are facing is high aversion to the changes that new technologies may bring. Aversion to change manifests itself in the backlash that sharing economy platforms have suffered in the richer economies of the west, while in the east this aversion is manifested in the fear that more information could disrupt societies. “Instead of protecting existing jobs by inhibiting the spread of new technologies, policies may focus on supporting those who lose their job to find new job opportunities. Instead of a top-down attempt to control information, policies may focus on reaping benefits of bottom-up innovation, unleashed by improving access to internet and big data.” The report provides examples of bottlenecks that are affecting the rise of the internet economy in the ECA region. The experience of the richer economies of the west illustrates that nearly universal and affordable internet access is far from being the magic bullet for the emergence of a strong internet economy. For instance, the developed economies of ECA have smaller shares of e-commerce sales in GDP than the US and Japan. “The causes of the low levels of e-commerce in the EU do not come from poor internet provision. Instead, a host of complement factors such as lack of trust in the financial system, concerns about cybersecurity and stringent regulations could explain this result.” See more

  • Friday, 17 March 2017

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