By Liv Marte Nordhaug, Co-Lead, Digital Public Goods Alliance
Faced with recurrent shocks and crises, countries everywhere are looking to build more resilient and inclusive digital foundations for public and private service delivery. As they enter this next stage of their digital journeys, advanced and emerging economies alike should apply an infrastructure mindset that drives inclusion, empowerment, and innovation. India’s G20 presidency offers a unique opportunity to convene the international community around advancing this agenda.
Par Guy Mehou, Économiste Macro-Financier & Charles Millogo, Responsable de l‘Économie Numérique, La Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement (BOAD)
On entend souvent dire qu’avec Internet, l’accès au savoir est simplifié. Les possibilités données aujourd’hui au plus grand nombre de faire des recherches sur Internet ou de se former via des MOOC (cours en ligne ouverts et massifs) ont significativement accru l’accès à des contenus. Avec Internet, la connaissance n’est plus réservée à une élite mais est dorénavant l’affaire de tous. De plus, une part accrue de ce savoir est disponible gratuitement, pour peu que l’on dispose d’une connexion Internet, et donc à la portée de chacun. Pour un enseignant, donner un cours en ligne permet d’avoir une audience décuplée et pour un étudiant, suivre un cours en ligne permet de choisir le moment privilégié pour s’instruire.
By Welby Leaman, Senior Director Global Policy Strategy, Walmart, Ana Valero, Director of Public Affairs and Regulatory for Latin America, Telefónica and Amy Alvarez, AVP, International External and Regulatory Affairs, AT&T 
Accelerated digital transformation has boosted e-commerce and digital service offerings. Across 13 African countries, more than 1 in 5 firms started using or expanded their use of digital technology in response to the shock of the pandemic. Decades of investment in connectivity, public-private collaboration and greater adoption of digital technologies by the public sector, including for public services, further accelerated digital transformation across emerging markets. Now, as countries struggle to return to growth, digital transformation can accelerate productivity and global trade. A 10% increase in digital connectivity between countries has been shown to increase trade in goods by nearly 2% on average, trade of parcels by 4%, and trade in services by over 3%.
By Angel Melguizo, Vice President, Economic, External & Regulatory Affairs, VRIO Corp; Eduardo Salido Cornejo, Head, Public Affairs Intelligence, Telefónica Hispanoamérica; and Welby Leaman, Senior Director, Global Policy Strategy, Walmart
Covid-19 put in stark relief the urgent need for accelerated digitalisation around the world. The good news is that so many people stepped up to meet this challenge. In many parts of the private sector, digital rollout that business executives thought would take years was achieved in weeks or even days, as customers’ digital adoption soared. Latin America was no exception to this phenomenon: in mid-March 2020, internet traffic increased by more than 40% practically overnight. The robustness of telecommunications infrastructure in the region – built by decades of investment – and the flexibility of many Latin American governments during the pandemic, were among the factors that facilitated this transition.
By Angel Melguizo, Vice President, External & Regulatory Affairs, AT&T VRIO Latin America; Eduardo Salido Cornejo, Public Affairs and Policy Manager Latin America, Telefónica; and J. Welby Leaman, Senior Director, Global Government Affairs, Walmart, Inc1
IPhone, Google, Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, Bitcoin, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Uber, Rappi: how many of them have you used today? And if so many of the things that impact our day-to-day lives, creating common experiences across the globe, did not exist 25 years ago (see John Erlichman’s tweet), what can an increasingly connected world create over the next 25 years? The next 60?
A resposta à crise do coronavírus está fornecendo uma oportunidade única para reinventar o governo, reconstruir a confiança e acelerar a luta global contra a corrupção, impulsionada pelo uso mais inteligente de novas tecnologias e análises de dados. A transformação digital é fundamental para os planos de recuperação, que exigirão governo ágil e redução da burocracia, mas também programas de reativação à prova de corrupção. Também exigirá o gerenciamento e a mitigação dos riscos à privacidade e à segurança pública.
La respuesta a la crisis del coronavirus está brindando una oportunidad única para reinventar el gobierno, reconstruir la confianza y acelerar la lucha mundial contra la corrupción, impulsada por el uso más inteligente de las nuevas tecnologías y el análisis de datos. La transformación digital es un aspecto fundamental de los planes de recuperación, que requerirán gobiernos ágiles y reducción de la burocracia, pero también garantías de integridad en el uso de los recursos de los programas de reactivación. También requerirá gestionar y mitigar los riesgos para la privacidad y la ciberseguridad.
The response to the coronavirus crisis is providing a unique opportunity to “reinvent government”, rebuild trust and accelerate the global fight against corruption, propelled by the smarter use of new technologies and data analytics. Digital transformation is central to recovery plans, which will require agile government and cutting red-tape, but also corruption-proofing reactivation programmes. Additionally, it will require managing and mitigating the risks to privacy and cybersecurity. At a macro level, the correlation between digitalisation and corruption is well established. Digitalisation can disrupt corruption by reducing discretion, increasing transparency, and enabling accountability by dematerialising services and limiting human interactions. Furthermore, it allows for more effective oversight by smarter accountability institutions and data-savvy civil society. However, there is less actionable evidence at the micro level on the effects of specific digitalisation reforms on different types of corruption and the policy channels through which they operate.
By Rabah Arezki, Chief Economist for Middle East and North Africa Region at the World Bank and Lemma W. Senbet, The William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and Immediate Past Executive Director/CEO, African Economic Research Consortium
To overcome current challenges and seize the opportunity to leapfrog, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region needs to simultaneously embrace the technological tide transforming the global economy and clean energy development. This transformation calls for a dual transition: (a) decarbonisation of the economy—moving away from the use of fossil fuel as the main source of energy toward renewable energies; and (b) digitalisation— the digital transformation of traditional activities and the advent of new digital activities. To achieve the transition, MENA needs hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in quality projects, including in renewable energy and telecom sectors. MENA should aggressively join the global momentum for the use of clean, renewable energy (e.g., wind, solar, geothermal) to combat climate change. Likewise, it should aggressively develop the digital infrastructure that is also essential for the development of a digitised financial economy.
By Carlos Santiso, Director for Digital Innovation in Government of the Development Bank of Latin America and Member of the Global Future Council on Transparency and Anticorruption of the World Economic Forum
This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.
In Brazil and elsewhere, the coronavirus crisis is accelerating the digital transformation of governments and govtech start-ups are becoming unexpected allies in the race to digital resilience.
Press reset and fast forward
The COVID-19 crisis is putting our global digital resilience to the test. It has revealed the importance of a country’s digital infrastructure as the backbone of the economy, not just as an enabler of the tech economy. Digitally advanced governments, such as Estonia, have been able to put their entire bureaucracies in remote mode in a matter of days, without major disruption. And some early evidence even suggests that their productivity increased during lockdown.