Geneva, 10 December 2018 – Mobile connectivity is fuelling e-commerce in Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia, priming them to better engage with the digital economy, assessments by UNCTAD of the prospects that new technologies can boost trade in the three African countries have found. But what is meant by by digital economy?

Increasingly, an ever-wider range of economic, political and social activities are moving online, encompassing various kinds of information and communications technologies (ICTs).

UNCTAD (@UNCTAD) | Twitter Twitter High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation
UNCTAD (@UNCTAD) | Twitter Twitter High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation

What is DIGITAL ECONOMY? What does it mean?

Digital economy refers to an economy that is based on digital computing technologies. The digital economy is also sometimes called the Internet Economy, the New Economy, or Web Economy. Increasingly, the “digital economy” is intertwined with the traditional economy making a clear delineation harder.

Before you continue reading this, I highly recommend this article about Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda: The Possibility of an Independent Ghana and the effect it will have on other African countries. It will give you a great juxtaposed perspective of where Ghana is today in relation to the economy and freedom from neo-colonialism. Click here to open the Ghana Beyond Aid Article in a new tab.

What are the components of digital economy?

The digital economy consists of various components, key among which include government; policy and regulation; internet, the world wide web (WWW) and electricity infrastructure; telecommunication industry; digital service providers; e-business and e-commerce industry; information and knowledge management systems; intellectual property rights; human capital and knowledge workers; research and development; and emerging technologies.

Digital Economy: Opportunities and Challenges brought by digital economy?

The digital economy brings with it a number of opportunities, but also new challenges and rules of the game in the global market. Positioning of the country on the global stage largely depends on its ability to adapt to new conditions. Digital economy brings a new set of benefits, which can make it possible to reduce the differences that exist between rich and poor nations.

Developing countries have the opportunity to transform its economy and to contribute to the development of the digital economy. Although these economies are characterized by high added value, faced with numerous obstacles, many developing countries can not adequately respond to the demands of the digital economy.

Inadequate access to the latest technology, sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure, low computer literacy as well as numerous cultural and socio-economic factors are just some of the challenges that developing countries have to face. On the other hand, with a clear policy and specific plans and objectives, it is possible to “skip” a few steps and effectively respond to the demands of the global market.

This paper aims to analyze the challenges and opportunities that are facing developing countries in the process of creating the digital economy.

Digital Economy: Opportunities and Challenges brought by digital economy – UNCTAD
Digital Economy: Opportunities and Challenges brought by digital economy – UNCTAD

Five Digital And Mobile Trends You Should Know – Jennifer Horowitz

  1. Artificial intelligence (AI) innovation surges
  2. Internet of Things (IoT) shapes mobile strategy
  3. Security takes center stage
  4. 5G meets mid-band spectrum
  5. The C-RAN model emerges in smart cities

Artificial intelligence (AI) innovation surges:

Over the past decade, AI in platform adoption worldwide has grown significantly, driving full customer engagement and enabling service providers. Automation and machine learning now play a major role in which customer data is processed.

Internet of Things (IoT) shapes mobile strategy:

In the mobile sector, the demand for global carrier-grade connectivity is expected to come to fruition in 2018. Businesses continue to be fueled by IoT and will be dependent on connectivity in an effort to capitalize on the socio-economic benefits of a connected world.

Security takes center stage:

Another buzzword worthy for businesses and consumers, security becomes even more of a mobile trend. Advancements in technology for security are becoming more sophisticated. Businesses are seeking out ways to prevent threats and fraudulent activities before they happen.

5G meets mid-band spectrum:

The Mobile World Congress show this year focused on highlighting the mid-band spectrum for delivering 5G connectivity. Urban 5G capacity is predicted to be fueled by mid-band and wireless broadband in both residential and rural areas. 

The C-RAN model emerges in smart cities:

These days, smart cities are all the rage with businesses, autonomous vehicles to health innovations. Digital DAS deployment in a C-RAN model will emerge in smart cities. This critical network architecture allows capacity to be distributed across various sectors of areas or a building throughout a smart city and cost-effectively.

Jennifer Horowitz is a management consultant and journalist with over 15 years of experience working in the technology, financial, hospitality, real estate, healthcare, manufacturing, not for profit, and retail sectors.

She specializes in the field of analytics, offering management consulting serving global clients from midsize to large-scale organizations.

Within the field of analytics, she helps higher-level organizations define their metrics strategies, create concepts, define problems, conduct analysis, problem solve, and execute.

For more on digital transformation strategies, see Transforming Your Business Through A Digital Supply Chain Of One.

Digital Economy: Opportunities and Challenges brought by digital economy – UNCTAD
Digital Economy: Opportunities and Challenges brought by digital economy – UNCTAD

The Importance of the Digital economy for Developing Countries:

The importance of the digital economy. The digital economy is developing rapidly worldwide. It is the single most important driver of innovation, competitiveness and growth, and it holds huge potential for entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

That is because it can have significant competitiveness and productivity-boosting opportunities related to access to digital products and services that help optimise processes and production, reduce transaction costs, and transform supply chains.

The evolving ICT use is having a transformational impact on the way business is done, and the way people interact among themselves, as well as with government, enterprises and other stakeholders. This new landscape gives rise to new business models and a wider scope for innovation. At the same time, it facilitates undesirable activities online, including cybercrime.

Against this background, world leaders in 2015 underscored the importance of adopting relevant policy responses to harness the potential of ICTs for all seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Creating trust online is a fundamental challenge to ensuring that the opportunities emerging in the information economy can be fully leveraged.

UNCTAD – Data Protection and Privacy

The handling of data is a central component in this context. In today’s digital world, personal data are the fuel that drives much commercial activity online, raising concerns of privacy and security of information. The present regulatory situation is far from ideal. Some countries lack rules altogether. Some national pieces of legislation are incompatible with each other.

UNCTAD provides legal advise and build capacity of policy and law makers. It also serves as a valuable forum for a much-needed global dialogue geared to building consensus in a very important policy field such as data protection.

The three reports, which demonstrate readiness across seven policy areas in the UNCTAD-led e-Trade for all partnership, were launched today at the opening of the first Africa eCommerce Week in Nairobi, Kenya. Recommendations in the reports lay the ground for e-commerce stakeholders to act, UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said:

“The benefits of the report recommendations will not be felt unless they are effectively implemented. This will require integrating specific elements of the recommendations into national development plans, government and private sector initiatives, ICT policies and strategies, regulatory frameworks and development projects.”

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi
Mukhisa Kituyi - Digital Economy Opportunities in Madagascar, Uganda, and Zambia - UNCTAD
Mukhisa Kituyi – Digital Economy Opportunities in Madagascar, Uganda, and Zambia – UNCTAD

Although e-commerce and digital entrepreneurship are snowballing on the continent – more than 21 million Africans shop online – countries are at very different stages of development, the UNCTAD reports show.

For instance, Uganda’s mobile transactions amounted to a staggering $16.3 billion, half the national GDP. But Zambia, where mobile money is gaining momentum, lags since Zambians prefer cash-on-delivery for e-commerce transactions. In Madagascar, only 6% of the population use the Internet and only 4% have bank accounts. But this means retailers are more likely to accept online payments via mobile phone.

All three countries face challenges in expanding information, communication and technology (ICT) infrastructure, improving trade logistics and access to financing for e-commerce ventures. The reports offer insight into the country-specific elements that could help unlock certain areas of the digital economy.

Interview with Dr.Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General UNCTAD

Interview with Dr.Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General UNCTAD @UnctadKituyi @Unctad
Interview with Dr.Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General UNCTAD @UnctadKituyi @Unctad by Rich Management. Click To Tweet

The Uganda assessment, for example, recommends the establishment of a multi-sectoral task force on e-commerce to help create a common understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with it. Doing so would also improve public-private coordination, the report outlines.

In Zambia, the assessment proposes accelerating the existing national addressing and postcode project. Since 2014, more than 60,000 house number and street number signs have been installed. Weak physical addressing remains a barrier for local e-commerce vendors. This means goods ordered online cannot always be delivered efficiently and reliably.

The Madagascar assessment highlights the need for a more efficient financing system for ICT and e-commerce start-ups. It recommends strengthening the dialogue between the private sector, the government’s Economic Development Board of Madagascar, technology start-ups and banks, who can together define the most common needs in the field of the digital economy.

This would help stimulate investments in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the engine of the local economy.

The reports consider seven key areas: overall e-commerce readiness and strategy, ICT infrastructure and services, trade logistics and facilitation, payment solutions, legal and regulatory frameworks, e-commerce skills development, and access to finance.

UNCTAD Explainer - Information and Communication Technology for Development
UNCTAD Explainer – Information and Communication Technology for Development

E-commerce on the agenda

The governments of Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia welcomed the new assessments at a special ministerial roundtable at Africa eCommerce Week.

“The globalization of trade requires the use of ICTs to gain market share. Developing e-commerce means shortening distances as well as transaction times,” Christian Ntsay, prime minister of Madagascar, said. “It is vital for developing countries such as Madagascar, to exploit the opportunities available to them through e-commerce.”

Ugandan state minister for cooperatives, Frederick Gume Ngobe, said: “E-commerce is an impetus for entrepreneurship, innovation and business development that can benefit all the people in Uganda.”

The permanent secretary of Zambia’s commerce ministry, Kayula Siame, said the report offered a roadmap for Zambian policy.

“The assessment provides a roadmap for what needs to be done in different policy areas, but we need to coordinate our activities,” she said. “A national e-commerce strategy for Zambia would help align different stakeholders towards a common vision.”

eTrade for all

The Government of Germany funded the three Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessments as part of its support to the eTrade for all initiative. The initiative provides capacity-building in e-commerce development and helps connect the dots between beneficiary countries, donors and development partners.

Since the launch of the Rapid eTrade Readiness programme in 2016, 15 assessments have been undertaken for Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Togo, Uganda, Vanuatu and Zambia.
With the support of key donors, at least 10 additional least developed countries and other developing countries will benefit from the programme in 2019.

4 Learning Trends Emerging in the Digital Economy Age

Modern learning has evolved from the traditional classroom training for large groups of employees. Technology has helped learning to become on-demand, personalized and experiential.

According to Krishna Kumar of Simplilearn.com, here are the 4 Main Learning Trends Emerging in the Digital Economy Age:

  1. Outcome-based Learning
  2. Investing in Continuous Learning
  3. Gamification
  4. Microlearning

Outcome-based Learning:

New technologies and online learning will transform the way in which universities deliver education. The speed of technological innovation will require higher education to adapt to newer learning methodologies and prepare students for job roles of the future.

Investing in Continuous Learning:

With automation and AI threatening some of today’s jobs, individuals need to rethink about their investments in their career development. Learning organizations are now personalizing education to ensure that students are constantly motivated and are driven towards a culture of continuous learning.

Gamification:

Employees need to be constantly engaged in order to increase their productivity levels and affinity towards their workplace. If employees feel positive about their contributions and are connected with their work, they are more likely to continue to invest time and energy into the company. 

Microlearning:

Another new trend in corporate training is the use of bite-sized learning modules. Microlearning involves small, specific bursts of content with one clear learning pathway. Breaking up long, in-depth lessons into small, digestible chunks is perfect for keeping employees engaged during longer, conventional e-learning modules.

Krishna Kumar founded Simplilearn.com in 2010. In the following years, he has built the company into one of the largest players in delivering certification training for working professionals. A thought leader in the edu-tech sector, Krishna believes in balancing technology with human interaction to deliver a world-class learning experience.

Simplilearn - Review 2016 - PCMag UK
Simplilearn – Review 2016 – PCMag UK

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