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The Year Ahead 2020

Developing Countries Must Seize the Tech Frontier

Like past periods of rapid, far-reaching technological change, today's digital revolution represents both a challenge and an opportunity for countries at all levels of development. But for the developing world in particular, now is the time to start preparing an economy- and society-wide strategy for managing the coming disruption.

JAKARTA – Rapid technological transformation will be a key feature of the economy well into the future. At the national, regional, and global level, frontier technologies are offering promising new opportunities, but are also introducing new policy challenges.

The march of technological innovation has long boosted economic performance, improved efficiency, accelerated the pace of globalization, and transformed human society in the process. But as the defining issue of our time, the digital revolution demands renewed policy cooperation at all levels of governance. After all, the latest wave of technological change is especially broad, and it is coming fast. It is fundamentally altering how goods, services, and ideas are exchanged. And as rapidly declining costs make digital technologies even more affordable and accessible, they will continue to transform people’s lives and livelihoods.

And yet, there is a danger that these gains will not reach the world’s poorest people. An estimated three billion people could still lack Internet access by 2023, and many more will have little or no opportunity to reap the benefits of digital technologies. That means there can be no delay in addressing the problem of digital exclusion.

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