March 26, 2023

ASIA and the Pacific is the most digitally divided region of the world, and Southeast Asia is the most divided subregion. The Covid-19 pandemic detonated a “digital big bang” that spurred people, governments and businesses to become “digital by default; ” a sea change that generated vast digital dividends. These benefits that have not been distributed equally, however. New development gaps have emerged as digital transformation reinforces a vicious cycle of socioeconomic inequalities, within and across countries.

Bridging these divides and ensuring that advances in technology can benefit everyone will be a key challenge as the region seeks to achieve a more inclusive plus sustainable post-pandemic recovery. A new Escap report, “Asia-Pacific Digital Transformation Report 2022: Shaping Our Digital Future, ” identifies five key “digital divides”; fault lines that separate those who can readily take advantage of new technology from those more likely to be left behind. These divides are related to age, gender, education, disability and geography.

Typically, those most comfortable with technological innovation are younger and better educated people that have grown up with the particular internet while “digital natives. ” Older persons may be more distrustful, are usually slower to acquire the necessary skills, or suffer declines in aptitude. But at any age, poor communities — especially those in rural areas — are most at risk as they may be unable to afford electricity or even digital connections or lack the relevant skills, even if the necessary infrastructure and connectivity are there.



The the majority of significant driver of electronic transformation will be business research and its development plus adoption associated with frontier technologies. Another major component is usually e-government, the particular delivery of public information and services via the Internet or through other digital means. This has the potential for more efficient and inclusive operations; specifically when linked to national electronic ID systems. However, because e-government services often evolve in complex regulatory environments, providing appropriate levels associated with accessibility for older generations, the disabled, or all those with limited education has become more challenging.

It is clear that digital technologies are usually enabling the delivery of previously unimagined services while enhancing productivity and optimizing resource use that has helped reduce emissions of greenhouse gases plus pollutants. These technologies also helped track and contain the spread of the particular pandemic. Social networks are fostering and diversifying communications among people of all ages sharing common interests, irrespective associated with location. This particular helps them stay in touch, broaden their experience, continue education or deepen subject knowledge. This provided a veritable lifeline that will has continued as we enter the post-pandemic era.

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At the same time, the risks have furthermore proliferated. Social networks also created social “echo chambers” and generated torrents associated with misinformation plus hate speech. New cryptocurrencies have opened the way to speculative financial bubbles, while cybercrime increased alarmingly as it assumed prolific variations. In addition, electronic gadgets and the internet are thought to contribute to more than two percent of the global carbon footprint. The manufacture of electronic hardware can also exhaust supplies of natural resources such as rare-earth elements and precious metals like cobalt and lithium.

Moreover, digital change has led to the creation of an immense amount of digital data which has become an essential resource to understand digital modification. However, this raises concerns about the particular ethical plus responsible make use of data for privacy protection. A common understanding among countries on the operationalization associated with such principles has yet to develop.

The Asia-Pacific Digital Change Report 2022 highlights the importance of digital connectivity infrastructure because “meta-infrastructure. inch The 5G and other high-speed networks can make all other facilities — such as transport and power grid distribution — much smarter, optimizing resource use with regard to sustainable advancement. To give rise to these needs, the report recommends three pathways for action, which are usually not mutually exclusive and are aligned with the Escap Action Plan from the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative for 2022-2026.

The first pathway focuses on the particular supply side and provides relevant policy practices regarding the development of cost-effective network infrastructure. The second addresses the demand part and recommends capacity-building programs and policies to promote uptake in scale, of new, more affordable and accessible digital products and services. The third involves improving systems plus institutions that are associated with collecting, aggregating and analyzing data in a way that builds public trust and deepens policymakers’ understanding associated with the drivers of electronic transformations.

Finally, within a world where digital data may flash around the globe in a good instant, the particular report highlights the importance of regional and worldwide cooperation. Only by working together can countries ensure that these technical breakthroughs will benefit everyone; their peoples, economies plus societies, like well since for the natural environment, in our brand new “digital simply by default” normal.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is definitely an undersecretary-general of the particular United Nations and executive secretary of the Economic and Interpersonal Commission intended for Asia plus the Pacific (Escap).


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