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Information Economy Report 2017

Digitalization, Trade and Development

image of Information Economy Report 2017

The Information Economy Report 2017 analyzes the evolving digital economy and its implications for trade and development. While these are still early days of the digital economy, it is already clear that it will have globally transformative impacts on the way we live, work and develop our economies. As the world strives to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, harnessing the power of information and communications technologies (ICTs) is essential. Large parts of the developing world remain disconnected from the Internet, and many people lack access to high-speed broadband connectivity. Policymaking at the national and international levels needs to mitigate the risk that digitalization could widen existing divides and create new gaps. Since increased reliance on digital technologies, such as cloud computing, three-dimensional printing, big data and “the Internet of things”, it is essential to start assessing opportunities and pitfalls alike, and to prepare for what is coming. The analysis contained in the report contributes to this process and proposes ways in which the international community can reduce inequality, enable the benefits of digitalization to reach all people and ensure that no one is left behind by the evolving digital economy.

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Measuring the evolving digital economy

Reliable measurement of the evolving digital economy is essential for governments to be able to design and implement evidence-based policies. This chapter uses available statistics and data from official and other sources to measure ICT penetration, use, production, employment and trade. The analysis also highlights estimates of more novel features of the digital economy, such as the rise of the sharing economy, 3D printing and robots. It reveals major digital divides and highlights significant gaps in the availability of official statistics, especially in developing countries, indicating a need for a comprehensive effort to help them collect internationally comparable statistics in key areas.

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