By Emma Okonji
The GSMA, a global telecommunications body has called on the federal and state governments to take advantage of its recently launched report that encourages governments to pursue policies that incentivise investment and promote development of digital economies, building an inclusive digital future for their citizens.
The report ‘Embracing the Digital Revolution: Policies for Building the Digital Economy’, which was developed in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), calls on policymakers to encourage digital advancement and prepare for the changes that lie ahead, while highlighting the risk of inaction.
Analysing the report, the Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA, John Giusti, said: “Digital and mobile technologies have delivered far-reaching social and economic benefits at both the global and national levels.”
According to him, “As the digital and mobile revolution continues to accelerate, new technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things, promise great benefits but also continued disruption resulting from the digitalisation of many industry sectors.” Forward-looking policies can enable citizens, businesses, societies and countries to prosper, improving lives and livelihoods, while mitigating the possible adverse effects that can accompany economic change,” Giusti said.
He explained that digitalisation would enable businesses to operate more efficiently and to access new markets and customers. Digital technologies can better connect government with its citizens and have a major impact on day-to-day life, from shopping and banking to entertainment and connecting with friends and family. The report estimates, for example, that digital technologies will influence up to 45 per cent of all retail sales by 2025.
The GSMA research has examined the positive impact that mobile has on the worldwide economy, and explained that mobile ecosystem generated 4.2 per cent of global GDP in 2015, a contribution of more than $3.1 trillion of added economic value.
The report encourages policymakers to be the architects of change by using policy to drive change and transform their economies for the benefit of all citizens. Policymakers have the power to create the best possible outcomes for the technological future in their country, whatever the level of socioeconomic development, if a number of key factors are put in place. The report listed such key factors to include high-speed, reliable and robust digital infrastructure; Digitally willing and capable people; Digitally competent and engaged businesses; Trusted environment for digital interactions; Enabling policy framework, among others.
“Governments have a critical role to play in creating an inclusive digital future by establishing a policy framework that incentivises network investment, by ensuring laws and regulations reflect the realities of today’s digital world, and by promoting digitalisation across the economy and society,” Giusti said.
Despite the many benefits of digitalisation, the pace of change creates the possibility of a gulf between those who are digitally connected and those who are not. Governments have an important role to play in creating a policy environment that allows for an inclusive digital society where few feel threatened or left behind, the report added.
The benefit consumers receive from mobile technologies can be quantified using the economic concept of consumer surplus, which is the value that consumers receive, over and above what they pay for devices, apps, services and internet access. BCG research in six countries: Brazil, China, Germany, India, South Korea and the United States, showed that mobile technologies have created $6.4 trillion of annual consumer surplus, which is more than the individual GDP of every country in the world, with the exception of China and the United States.
The report added that digital and mobile technology are transforming the everyday life of billions of people around the world, citing the recent example of the cash-based system for paying school registration fees in Côte d’Ivoire, which led to multiple problems, including time wasted by parents standing in long queues and the risk of robbery, which threatened the safety of parents and children and reduced Ministry of National and Technical Education (MENET) revenue collection.
Based on the report findings, GSMA insisted that mobile technology could play an important role in speeding up birth registration and the provision of unique identities in underserved communities. The report further explained that unregistered individuals, lacking official documentation, may be denied access to government services, banking and other important services.