Digitisation represents $19 trillion in potential economic value over the next decade, and governments everywhere need to be on top of these emerging technologies, says Dr Jane Thomason, CEO of ABT Australia. 

Can Blockchain, AI, Machine Learning, and Big Data help emerging economies to “Leapfrog?”

The world is changing rapidly with the development of new and disruptive technologies, governments everywhere need to be on top of these emerging technologies.

For developing countries, disruptive change may bring unique opportunities to bypass the legacy issues that advanced economies confront, and help them “leapfrog”. There is growing global interest in how these technologies can be used to tackle old development challenges, and to prepare emerging economy governments for the changes that are already happening.

Why Does Digitisation Matter?

  • Digitisation will represent  $19 trillion in potential economic value over the next decade.
  • The impact globally on the public sector could amount to USD 4.6 trillion of value-added by 2022,
    through increasing productivity and effectiveness, reducing costs, improving public transport and the
    emergency services.
  • Digitization creates jobs, with a 10 point increase in the digitization score leading to a 1.02 percent
    drop in the unemployment rate, digitization had the greatest employment effect in constrained and
    emerging digitized economies.
  • By the end of 2016, around two-thirds of the world’s population had access to a mobile phone.
  • The Internet of Things (inanimate objects that “talk” to each other) already comprises a larger number of connected devices (some 8 billion) globally than the world’s population.
  • Policymakers must ensure the capabilities and enablers for sectoral digitization are in place, and
    need to collaborate with industry, consumers, and government to foster an ecosystem in which the
    uptake and usage of digital applications grow.

Use Cases for Digital Government

Digital Government is a transformation of traditional ‘analogue government’ functions toward digital solutions for government operations, services and connection with citizens. This includes, digitization of public service systems to improve responsiveness, capability and accountability; policies and interventions to facilitate digital economic growth; and leveraging the ability of internet, email, text and social media to improve citizen participation. Just as digitization enhances the efficiency and competitiveness of businesses, it can also improve efficiency and effectiveness of government functions and enhance sustainable economic and civic growth.

ChallengeContextOpportunity and Impact
Identity
The importance of trusted legal identity is recognized by UN ID4D agenda to be a fundamental prerequisite for poverty reduction. Having an established identity underlies a citizen’s access to a plethora of services: financial inclusion, government services, voting, and employment to name a few.
Opportunity to rapidly establish and scale an advanced digital identity system leveraging today’s technological advances. This will unlock many barriers faced by the poor, as well as facilitate greater economic growth through ease of transactions.
Democracy
Declining trust in governments and electoral processes.

Blockchain democracy platforms offer a cheap, fast, trusted reliable means to give citizen voice.
Financial inclusion
1.1 billion people worldwide are unbanked and do not have access to financial services.
Digital currencies and large scale roll out of mobile money systems could fuel rapid widespread access to financial services that was not available before. This could have tremendous impact on economic livelihoods of the large segments of the population that are unbanked.
Land and assets registrationMany citizens own land and assets, but due to insufficient and unverifiable records, are not able to access value of their assets.
Through a government led digitization of assets, people would be able borrow to improve their livelihoods and an immutable digital record (once established) means that ownership is unambiguous.
Government and donor payments Payments often do not reach their intended recipients. Utilization of digital payments, and potentially smart contracts that automates payments conditional on certain variables, can reduce the amount of leakage in social welfare payments. Digital payments provide benefits of traceability and efficiency in disbursement. Smart contracts through digital transactions ensure funds reach intended recipients in a transparent way without middlemen and leakage along the way.
Supply chains of medicinesHealth Facility Supply Chains are crucially important to ensure the authenticity and quality of life saving medicines. Poor-quality medicines are a major public health threat, particularly in settings with a weak regulatory environment. Advances in logistic chain management leverages both digital and data analytics to not only improve the tracking and authenticity of medicines, but also ensure consistency of availability and quality.
Energy
The production and delivery of modern forms of energy, and especially electricity, represents one of the major challenges the world faces today - especially for the developing countries.
The provision of access to affordable electricity through the introduction of off-grid renewable energy technologies, especially based on solar photovoltaic, has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of the more than 1.1 billion people who lack access worldwide, including some 650 million in Sub-Saharan Africa, 350 million in Asia and about 20 million in Latin America and the Caribbean
Economic growthGlobal economic growth is a) declining, and b) being disrupted by digital technology. There is a growing unease at the widening digital divide between developed countries and developing countriesFor countries to remain competitive, it is imperative that governments look toward innovation and digital technologies to provide the basis for growth in the 21st Century.
JobsValue of agriculture and manufacturing jobs are rapidly declining. This implies that job creation in the future, will inevitably need to come from the digital economy, where economic value will be derived vastly differently than from the economic makeup of the 20th century. For the government to embark on a digital transformation journey will lay down the foundations of a more efficient government sector. Government leadership in tackling the digital gap, will enhance job prospects in new areas, as well as open new market opportunities as existing markets decline.
Government SectorThe majority of the world’s governments are embarking on a journey to adapt to the 21st century. Many of the traditional government operations, services and policies were established in an era that is rapidly becoming obsolete. The cost of an outdated mode of operations imposes unnecessary inefficiencies in the government sector. Adapting and utilizing digital technologies in government operations can drastically reduce the cost of the government sector, as well as the efficacy of service provision and social impact. Re-orientating economic policies with a viewpoint to stimulate growth in the digital age, with the government sector demonstrating leadership in digital adoption, would have multiplying effects on the private sector, including foreign investment.