UNCTAD Report Recommends Actions to Reduce Digital Divide
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The 'Digital Economy Report 2019’ finds that the digital economy is highly concentrated in the US and China while the rest of the world is “trailing considerably far behind”.

The report showcases how digital data and digital platforms can help drive value creation in the digital economy.

4 September 2019: The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a report finding that “concerted global efforts are required” to better distribute gains from the digital economy and minimize the digital divide. The report recommends increasing assistance to support countries that are lagging behind, building capacities in the public and private sectors, and strengthening the enabling environment for value creation.

Digital developments have implications for virtually all of the SDGs, and will affect all countries, sectors and stakeholders.

The ‘Digital Economy Report 2019’ finds that the digital economy is highly concentrated in the US and China, while the rest of the world is “trailing considerably far behind,” especially countries in Africa and Latin America. In the least developed countries (LDCs), one in five people use the internet, compared with four out of five people in developed countries. The US and China account for 90% of the market capitalization value of the world’s 70 largest digital platforms, over 75% of the cloud computing market, 75% of all patents related to blockchain technologies, and 50% of global spending on the Internet of Things (IoT). Under current regulations and policies, the report predicts that this trajectory is likely to continue, contributing to increasing inequality.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the importance of closing this digital divide in the report’s forward: “Inclusivity is essential to building a digital economy that delivers for all.” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi highlighted the desire of people in developing countries to “take part in the new digital world, not just as users and consumers, but also as producers, exporters and innovators.” He said inclusion in the digital world can help to create and capture more value and promote inclusive prosperity. The report showcases how digital data and digital platforms can help drive value creation in the digital economy.

The report states that digital developments “have implications for virtually all of the SDGs” and will affect all countries, sectors and stakeholders. The report highlights how digital data can help solve society’s problems and contribute to the SDGs by improving economic and social outcomes and serving as a force for innovation and productivity growth. [UNCTAD Press Release] [Publication Webpage] [Publication: Digital Economy Report 2019] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on GeSI Deloitte Report on Digital Technology]

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