"(Live Mint) Focus offline to make it big online: World Bank report- The takeaway from World Bank’s World Development Report is that there is no short cut for developing countries if they want to reap digital dividends
• Every day, there are 4 billion searches made on Google. That number is also the count of people who do not have access to the internet, according to the World Development Report (WDR) 2016.
• The report, which discusses the importance of advances in information communication technology (ICT) for overall development, has one clear message: to exploit ICT’s full potential in economic upliftment of the poor, attention must be paid towards overcoming backwardness in traditional areas such as education, skill development and governance.
Here are five charts that explain that in detail.
1. ICT has led to huge increases in labour productivity
The importance of technical advances such as steam engine and electricity in ushering economic development is well established.
2. Digital economy offers flexible work, making it easier for disadvantaged groups to find employment
One of the biggest challenges towards equitable development is providing employment to groups that face a relative disadvantage in the traditional economy, such as women or disabled persons. ICT-based jobs might be able to solve this problem. The report cites statistics to show that the share of women in ICT sector employment is much more than total non-agricultural employment. These advantages are rooted in the greater flexibility in ICT sector employment such as the option of working from home and reduction in search costs.
3. ICT’s overall contribution to employment is still low
The report, however, also gives good reason not to go overboard with optimism on the employment front. Firstly, ICT employment is not without its share of problems, such as job security and non-fulfilment of income expectations.
4. Access to internet is still ridden by inequality; India has the largest number of offline people in the world
• The biggest challenge to realizing ICT-enabled gains is at the most basic level. Majority of people still do not have access to the internet.
• Less than 15% of the world’s 7.4 billion people have access to high speed internet, although 5.2 billion have mobile phones. India has the highest number of offline people in the world, followed by China.
5. Leapfrogging to digital methods in seeking democratic opinion can produce skewed results
• The report also has a warning. Notwithstanding the virtues ICT revolution has brought to governance systems—ease in filing tax returns, applying for new businesses or increased transparency and accountability are some examples.
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