A Digitally Connected World
The advent of the Digital Technology has transformed the world beyond imagination during the last 20 years. Mobile telephony and Internet have networked the world into a global community.
The impact is tremendous. Information, services, communication, education, finance sectors have been the major beneficiary. Be it the rail, taxi, air, bus or any kind of transport services, the bookings have gone online. Travel and Tourism have received a massive boost. Money moves faster as banking services have easy access. Money transfer rates are falling constantly. It is a definite gain for businesses. But labour is adversely affected as manufacturing is getting concentrated in select pockets due to the possibility of aggregation. Education that does not require the conventional pedagogy, is also moving online. Consultation services are also acquiring net version. Realty is a real gainer with real estate businesses having a global clientele. The facts below present an overview of the impact of the Internet in human life and development:
Penetration of Digital Technology
More than 40% of the world’s population has access to the internet, with new users coming online every day.
Among the poorest 20% of households, nearly 7 out of 10 have a mobile phone. The poorest households are more likely to have access to mobile phones than to toilets or clean water.
Nearly six billion people do not have high-speed internet, making them unable to fully participate in the digital economy.
·While people around the world make more than four billion Google searches every day, four billion people still lack access to the internet.
Digital technologies—the internet, mobile phones, and all the other tools to collect, store, analyze, and share information digitally—have spread quickly. More households in developing countries own a mobile phone than have access to electricity or clean water, and even toilet facilities.
Nearly 60 percent of the world’s people are still offline.
Nearly 70% of the bottom fifth of the population in developing countries own a mobile phone.
The number of internet users has more than tripled in a decade—from one billion in 2005 to an estimated 3.2 billion at the end of 2015.
The lowest mobile penetration is in Sub-Saharan Africa (i.e., 73%), against 98% in high-income countries. But internet adoption lags behind considerably: only 31% of the population in developing countries had access in 2014, against 80% in high-income countries. China has the largest number of internet users, followed by the United States, with India, Japan, and Brazil filling out the top five.
On average, 8 in 10 individuals in the developing world own a mobile phone, and the number is steadily rising.
Quick Spread of Internet
The internet and related technologies reached developing countries much faster than previous technological innovations.
It took 160 years for steamship to reach Indonesia after their invention.
Kenya got electricity after 60 years of its development.
But for Vietnam to introduce computers, it took only 15 years.
Mobile phones and the internet took only a few years.
How do digital technologies promote development?
By reducing information costs, digital technologies greatly lower the cost of economic and social transactions for firms, individuals, and the public sector. They promote innovation when transaction costs fall to essentially zero. They boost efficiency as existing activities and services become cheaper, quicker, or more convenient. And they increase inclusion as people get access to services that previously were out of reach.
Governments are increasingly going digital, and a greater share of government jobs in developing countries is ICT-intensive than in the private sector.
By 2014, all 193 member states of the United Nations (UN) had national websites.
101 enabled citizens to create personal online accounts, 73 to file income taxes, and 60 to register a business.
For the most common core government administrative systems, 190 member states had automated financial management, 179 used such systems for customs processing, and 159 for tax management. And 148 of them had some form of digital identification, and 20 had multipurpose digital identification platforms.
A typical day in the life of the internet:
186 million Instagram photos
152 million Skype calls
36 million Amazon purchases
803 million Tweets
9.8 billion Youtube videos watched
4.2 billion Google searches
207 billion e-mails sent
The unfinished task of connecting everyone to the internet—one of the targets in the recently approved Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—can be achieved through a judicious mix of market competition, public-private partnerships, and effective regulation of the internet and telecom sector.
New media platforms can increase citizen participation. And digital enablers—digital finance, digital identification, social media, and open data—spread To maximize the digital dividends requires better understanding of how technology interacts with other factors that are important for development—what the Report calls “analog complements.” Digital technologies can make routine, transaction-intensive tasks dramatically cheaper, faster, and more convenient.
(Sources: World Development Indicators (World Bank, various years);
WDR 2016 team; http://www .internetlivestats.com/one-second/ (as compiled on April 4, 2015).
Data at http://bit.do/WDR2016)